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Well water contamination can be “significantly predicted by race and income"


In North Carolina, more households rely on private wells as a main source of drinking water than in any other state. A new study from UNC-Chapel Hill shows the level of contaminants found in residents' drinking water can be “significantly predicted by race and income.”

Andrew George with the Center for Public Engagement at UNC’s Institute for the Environment is the lead author of the study.

He says tests of 476 private wells showed contamination exceeding a federal or state standard or public health goal in more than 67% of the samples.

Toxic metals in drinking water have no taste or smell, so only households that are actively testing their well water can identify any potential problems.

Drinking contaminated water can lead to health problems associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders and other illnesses.

The study found that white, high-income households were more than 10 times more likely to test their private wells, and 4 times more likely to treat their drinking water than BIPOC, low-income households.