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Well Water and Exposure to Metals

Four Corners States Biomonitoring Consortium

The New Mexico Department of Health is a member of the Four Corners States Biomonitoring Consortium (4CSBC). A key project of the consortium is a study of exposure to metals in drinking water from private wells in select areas in New Mexico. The purpose of this study is to understand community exposures to toxic metals from private well drinking water, and other sources. Information obtained through this study will help us to:

  1. Provide methods to help ensure drinking water is safe to drink.
  2. Better understand people's exposures to metals and provide recommendations on how to potentially reduce them.

This study assesses exposures to metals in adults, 18 years of age and older, who use private wells as their source of drinking water. The metals we test for include arsenic, cadmium, manganese, mercury, selenium, and uranium. Your exposure to these metals can occur through drinking water, diet, smoking, metal working hobbies, and air.
The process will take about an hour of your time. Depending on the community/study area, sampling can happen either at your home or at a centralized location. To participate you will need to:

  1. Provide a sample of your urine
  2. Provide a sample of water that has been collected from your private well*, and
  3. Complete a survey to identify sources of exposure such as water, diet, tobacco, metal related hobbies, or some consumer products.

There is no charge to participate in this study. All samples will be de-identified, data will be protected, and results will be confidential.

*If you are unsure if you have a well, explore our Well Water Resources page to learn more. You most likely have a well if you do not receive a water bill from your city or town, or a water company.
These are targeted public health studies, which means we are only working in a limited number of communities at this time. If you have questions about the study or would like to find out if you are eligible to participate, please contact the NM Department of Health Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau (see contact information below).

New Mexico Department of Health Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau doh-eheb@state.nm.us 1-888-878-8992 or (505) 827-0006

If you are interested in testing your well water, but are not interested in participating in the study or do not qualify, you can learn more about the locations, dates, and testing services offered at Well Water Test Fairs
About 20 percent of the population in New Mexico (or estimated 400,000 people) receives their water from a private well. The water quality from private wells is not monitored or regulated by the EPA or the state. It is the responsibility of the home owner to ensure that their water is safe for human consumption. You can do this by testing (sampling and analyzing) your water periodically, caring for your well, and maintaining your treatment/filtration system.
Learn about metals in foods you and your family may be consuming

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors hundreds of foods and beverages that make up the average American diet. The agency looks for substances that could be harmful to consumers, including industrial chemicals, heavy metals, pesticide residues and radiation contamination.

FDA regularly tests food products commonly consumed by children for lead as part of the agency's ongoing surveillance to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply. The test results are reported here

Fish are nutritious and are an important part of a healthy diet. However, some fish may contain contaminants at levels that could lead to health problems. The State of New Mexico and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) periodically collect fish and analyze those fish for contaminants. In some areas, contaminants are detected in fish and shellfish at levels that could result in health problems from long term fish consumption, such as for weeks, months, or longer.

Learn more about fish and shellfish advisories (EPA)

Learn about fish advisories in New Mexico
Learn about arsenic in rice (459.1 KB)

Arsenic may be found in many foods including grains, fruits, and vegetables where it is present due to absorption from soil and water. While most crops don't readily take up much arsenic from the ground, rice is different because it takes up arsenic from soil and water more readily than other grains.
In early 2007, FDA became aware of reports of high lead levels in certain vitamins, which became an issue of concern to FDA, Congress, and the public. A study was conducted to determine the content of lead in vitamins labeled for women and children.

See the listing of vitamins and supplements and the lead content found during the study

FDA fact sheet about dietary supplements
The NM EPHT website is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number, 6 NUE1EH001354 (previously, 5 U38EH000949), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC or do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sun, 26 May 2019 15:32:17 from New Mexico EPHT Tracking Public Web site: https://nmtracking.org/ ".

Content updated: Fri, 30 Jun 2017 11:48:01 MDT