Background Information

Arsenic (As) is a toxic element that is known to pose a risk of adverse health effects in people who consume water containing it.  For long-term consumption of As-containing water, these impacts include, but are not limited to, cancer of the skin, bladder, lung, kidney, liver and prostate as well as cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders. Adverse impacts of arsenic exposure on childhood intelligence have been demonstrated in Bangladesh and research in Maine raises the possibility that levels of As not uncommon in the US pose a threat to child development.

Because of these health concerns the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection adopted a standard of 5 ug/l to protect the public health. The state standard, applying to both public and non-public systems, became effective on January 23, 2006.  The state takes responsibility for ensuring public systems test for arsenic and treat the water if necessary to reduce arsenic to meet the state standard.  Private homeowners with private wells bear that responsibility themselves.

The New Jersey Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) requires wells to be tested and the results provided to prospective buyers before a house can be sold. In addition, landlords of properties with wells must also test for certain drinking water parameters and provide results to their tenants.

Arsenic concentrations are highest in Northern and Central New Jersey and residents of the following counties are required to test for Arsenic under the PWTA:

  • Bergen
  • Essex
  • Hudson
  • Hunterdon
  • Mercer
  • Middlesex
  • Morris
  • Passaic
  • Somerset
  • Sussex
  • Union
  • Warren

If you live in any of these counties, you should test your well water for arsenic even if you are not planning to sell your house.

Private Well Testing Act Data from 2002 to 2014 shows % of wells tested that exceed NJ standard for arsenic in 2 x 2 mile grids.