- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire officials say hundreds of cases of lung, bladder and skin cancer could be avoided if private well owners had their drinking water tested for arsenic.

The report by Dartmouth College and the state departments of health and environmental services estimates that 450 to 600 cases of cancer could be avoided through testing and treatment of water found to have unhealthy levels of arsenic. The estimates are based on the number of wells that have tested positive and cancer rates in the state.

Nearly half the state’s population gets its water from private wells.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring carcinogen that is odorless, colorless and tasteless.

“Over the last 25 years, the number of diseases associated with arsenic has increased, the parts of the body affected by arsenic-mediated diseases have increased and estimates of what constitutes a safe long-term dose of arsenic have decreased,” said Mark Borsuk of Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering and project leader on the report.

Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack estimates one in five wells in New Hampshire have unhealthy levels of arsenic.

The study was prompted by a 2012 U.S. Geological Survey on arsenic contamination in private wells.

The New Hampshire Arsenic Consortium will be meeting in Concord Oct. 16 to discuss the issue of arsenic in well water.

Officials recommend that well owners have their water tested every three to five years by an accredited lab.

The DES website lists accredited laboratories at www.des.nh.gov.

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