Wake County

Wake County to help people read well water tests for potentially dangerous chemicals

A month after Wake County urged thousands to test their well water for unsafe drinking water, the county will now help people read the test results.

Wake County sent mailers to 19,000 property owners in late June warning that their private wells may have unsafe levels of radiological chemicals like uranium and radon. The chemicals are found in naturally occurring granite in the eastern part of the county and the granite extends into portions of Johnston, Franklin, Vance and Warren counties.

Between 4,000 and 6,000 wells in the eastern part of Wake County likely have unhealthy levels of the chemicals, according to the county. Drinking water with too much uranium can cause kidney toxicity. And, longer term, high levels of uranium or radium can increase the risks of certain cancers. There is also an increased risk of certain types of cancer from drinking or bathing in water with too much radon.

Only a handful of companies do the radiological tests, and the results can take weeks.

Wake County will hold weekly meetings from 6-8 p.m. on Thursdays — starting Aug. 15 — at the Wake County Human Services Center, 10 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh. Meetings are scheduled through Aug. 29, though more dates may be added.

Spots will be limited at the meetings and people are asked to RSVP online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/V6RB66Z. People should bring a copy of their lab results and notepad to write questions and take notes, according to a county news release.

“These meetings are the best way for people who have questions about their well water test results to get answers,” said Evan Kane, Wake County’s groundwater protection and wells manager. “We’re going to help you read your results, understand the potential risks and decide what you want to do next.”

People can call 919-893-WELL (9355) or visit wakegov.com/wells to find out if they live in the affected area, get more information about how to get their well tested or to ask questions.

If a test comes back with unhealthy levels of the chemicals, the fix can range from $1,500 for a reverse osmosis system to $15,000 for a system that treats the entire house.

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Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and received many North Carolina Press Association awards, including first place for investigative reporting. She is a 2012 alumna of Elon University.
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