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50 Ways Farmers Can Protect Their Groundwater
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43. Test Your Water For Pesticides

reasons to test for pesticides

Community water supplies are required to test for 83 contaminants on a regular basis and must inform customers when a detection exceeds health standards.

However, if your water comes from a private well, you may have good reason to do your own testing for pesticides, especially in these cases: someone in the immediate area confirms pesticide contamination in a private well; a commercial pesticide distributor is located nearby; you have a shallow, large-diameter well; or you are aware of pesticide mixing, spills, or tanks being emptied within a few hundred feet of your well.

Testing for pesticides Testing for pesticides is more expensive than testing for nitrate and bacteria, so you want to have a good idea of what you are looking for. If your well is particularly vulnerable to contamination, you may need to test periodically throughout the year to get an accurate picture of the problem.
testing water Sometimes it is cheapest to have the lab "screen" one water sample for all of the chemicals you are looking for. Screening is an economical way to look for many chemicals, but it cannot accurately determine their concentration.
water samples State environmental agencies or the local and regional offices of the department of public health will have information on where to have water tested for pesticides and may even be equipped to do the testing. Once you have found a certified testing laboratory that will run the tests you need, find out what the charge is.
pump If the test is positive for pesticides, you may want to immediately retest your well. Changes in rainfall, pesticide use, or water withdrawal can cause wide variations in the levels of pesticides found in your well. A second test may give you a better overall idea of what is in your water.
testing water If any amount of pesticide is found in your water, seek advice from your local or state health department on actions to take and whether you need to do follow-up testing.
water spiget Once you know what chemical is in your water, and how much was detected, obtain a health advisory summary from the public health department or the U. S. EPA. Health advisory summaries will tell you both the noncancer health risks and the cancer risk from pesticides and other chemicals in water.
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