Drinking water from private wells and risks to children

Walter J. Rogan, Michael T. Brady, Helen J. Binns, Joel A. Forman, Catherine J. Karr, Kevin Osterhoudt, Jerome A. Paulson, James R. Roberts, Megan T. Sandel, James M. Seltzer, Robert O. Wright, Elizabeth Blackburn, Mark Anderson, Sharon Savage, N. Beth Ragan, Paul Spire, Joseph A. Bocchini, Henry H. Bernstein, John S. Bradley, Carrie L. ByingtonPenelope H. Dennehy, Margaret C. Fisher, Robert W. Frenck, Mary P. Glode, Harry L. Keyserling, David W. Kimberlin, Walter A. Orenstein, Lorry G. Rubin, Robert S. Baltimore, Julia A. McMillan, Beth Bell, Robert Bortolussi, Richard D. Clover, Marc A. Fischer, Richard L. Gorman, R. Douglas Pratt, Jennifer S. Read, Bruce Gellin, Jeffrey R. Starke, Jack Swanson, Carol J. Baker, Sarah S. Long, Larry K. Pickering, Edgar O. Ledbetter, H. Cody Meissner, Jennifer Frantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Drinking water for approximately one sixth of US households is obtained from private wells. These wells can become contaminated by pollutant chemicals or pathogenic organisms, leading to significant illness. Although the US Environmental Protection Agency and all states offer guidance for construction, maintenance, and testing of private wells, there is little regulation, and with few exceptions, well owners are responsible for their own wells. Children may also drink well water at child care or when traveling. Illness resulting from children's ingestion of contaminated water can be severe. This report reviews relevant aspects of groundwater and wells; describes the common chemical and microbiologic contaminants; gives an algorithm with recommendations for inspection, testing, and remediation for wells providing drinking water for children; reviews the definitions and uses of various bottled waters; provides current estimates of costs for well testing; and provides federal, national, state, and, where appropriate, tribal contacts for more information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1123-e1137
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Drinking water
  • Escherichia coli
  • Fluoride
  • Groundwater
  • Nitrate
  • Private well
  • Water
  • Waterborne disease
  • Well
  • Well water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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