From: United States Geological Survey (USGS)
Published March 7, 2017 08:32 AM

USGS Finds Elevated Levels of Arsenic, Radon, Methane in Some Private Wells in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania

Tests of 75 private drinking water wells in Lycoming County, in north-central Pennsylvania, found water from most of the sampled wells contained concentrations of radon that exceeded a proposed, nonbinding health standard for drinking water. Smaller percentages of the wells contained concentrations of arsenic or methane that exceed existing drinking water standards.

The US Geological Survey carried out the tests in 2014 to assess the natural characteristics of local groundwater and the potential effects of land uses such as mining, natural gas production, agriculture, and sewage and septic systems on local water supplies. Property owners participated voluntarily in the testing and were notified of the results.

Some of the randomly-selected wells tested in this study were located near natural gas production sites that use unconventional methods such as hydraulic fracturing. However, the findings were very similar to those of an earlier study in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wayne County, where unconventional gas drilling is not permitted, the researchers said.

Radon, arsenic, and methane carry potential health risks, but property owners can test and treat their wells to control these risks. Pennsylvania does not regulate private wells, but the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Penn State Extension provide testing and treatment guidance for private well owners. The first step is getting information about potential contaminants, said USGS scientist Eliza Gross, who led the Lycoming County study.


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