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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center

DATE: June 6, 2014
Paul Susca, NHDES (603) 271-7061
Mark Borsuk, Dartmouth (603) 646-9944
Michael Paul, Dartmouth (603) 643-3137

New Hampshire Environmental and Health Departments Team up With Dartmouth to Improve Well Water Safety

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Departments of Environmental Services and Health and Human Services with grant funding from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have hired a team from Dartmouth College to survey well owners to find out how many test and treat their water and to identify the major factors limiting that testing and treatment. New Hampshire residents are encouraged to take the survey at: The survey will close on June 30.

Over 40% of New Hampshire’s 1.3 million residents use private wells for drinking water, and approximately one in five of those wells contain unsafe levels of arsenic—a naturally occurring element in the rocks of the Granite State that, even at low doses, has been associated with skin, bladder, and lung cancers, and other harmful health effects. High levels of radon in private wells are even more common; radon is responsible for an estimated 100 deaths per year in the state.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) and New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS) are trying to help private well users ensure that their drinking water is safe by having their water tested and taking appropriate steps to limit their daily dose of arsenic and other harmful contaminants.

Dartmouth, NHDES, and NHDHHS will use the results of the survey to help design cost-effective, targeted initiatives to help well-users protect their drinking water. “We want to learn how to empower well-water users with the tools and information they need to keep their drinking water safe for themselves and their families,” says project leader and Dartmouth engineering professor Mark Borsuk.

The online survey is open to all NH well-water users, although several thousand residents have already received postcards specifically inviting them to fill it out. Anyone completing the survey will be eligible for a chance to win a new iPad. "We hope the raffle will provide a little extra incentive to participate in this important study," added Borsuk.

“Arsenic in private wells is a significant public health issue in New Hampshire," commented NHDES Commissioner Thomas Burack. "DES is very pleased to be working with Dartmouth both to better understand the magnitude of the health impact and to find more effective ways to help well users protect their health."

Dartmouth’s Superfund Research Program has been examining the health effects of arsenic for the last 17 years with funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program. This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement 1U53EH001110-01 from the CDC.

For more information about the survey or with other questions, please contact Prof. Mark Borsuk, by telephone at 603-646-9944 or by e-mail at

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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