Concerning Cyanide Levels Found in Some Benton County Area Well Water

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The Arkansas Department of Health has issued private well water testing guidance for two counties in the state, including one in Northwest Arkansas.

The Department of Health issued the guidance for Benton and Phillips counties, according to Meg Mirivel, MA public information director for the Office of Health Communications.

This action was taken after levels of cyanide slightly above federal drinking water limits were detected in a few public water systems that have well water as their source in both Benton and Phillips counties, according to Mirivel.

“Those systems are taking appropriate follow-up actions,” Mirivel said. “It is not uncommon to detect cyanide at low levels in some water sources.”

The Department of Health works with public water systems to regulate drinking water, and in doing so, monitors public drinking water systems for contaminants, Mirivel said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the ADH is working to provide water testing guidance to private well water owners who are not on the public water systems in those areas,” Mirivel said.

Private wells receive water from groundwater that works its way through soil into the well, Mirivel said.

“The ADH is not able to determine the source for these detections of cyanide,” Mirivel said. “Private well owners should also be aware that private labs that test drinking water may not be testing for cyanide unless specifically asked to do so.”

The provided guidance is as follows:

  1. Private wells should be checked every year for mechanical problems, cleanliness, and the presence of coliform bacteria, nitrates, and any other contaminants of concern.
  2. In addition to testing for usual contaminants, private well owners in Benton and Phillips counties should consider testing well water for the presence of cyanide.
  3. Private labs are able to perform this testing for a fee. The ADH is also able to test private drinking water wells in these areas for the presence of cyanide at no cost to the homeowner.
  4. If present in well water, cyanide can be removed by installation of home reverse osmosis treatment systems. It is expected that most home owners will not need to install treatment equipment. Testing for cyanide can determine if it is present, and if it is present in high enough concentration to warrant the purchase of treatment equipment.
  5. It is important for private well owners to know the Environmental Protection Agency has set a safe lifetime exposure level of cyanide in drinking water at 0.2 mg/L or 0.2 ppm. At or below this level, public health is protected.

Private home owner who want the Department of Health to test their well water for cyanide, can contact the department at (501) 661-2171. Other people who are concerned can contact ADH by calling (501) 661-2623 or emailing safewater@arkansas.gov to ask questions and receive additional guidance.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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