Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Arsenic exposure in private drinking wells

File:Arsen 1.jpg by The original uploader was Tomihahndorf at German Wikipedia. is licensed with CC BY-SA 3.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Arsenic is a problem for many private wells in Michigan. Now a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey finds a drought could make things even worse.

Arsenic occurs naturally in many places. Unfortunately, it’s toxic. Too much exposure can damage people’s health in a variety of ways including increasing their cancer risk. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates more than 225,000 Michiganders may already get too much arsenic from their private wells. And the agency says in times of drought, almost a hundred thousand more could be at risk. Melissa Lombard is with the U.S.G.S. in New Hampshire.

“The longer the duration of the drought, the greater the increase in probability of having elevated arsenic.”

Public water supplies have to limit arsenic levels.

But those laws don’t cover private wells.