8 Common Contaminants Found in Well Water

Having a private well can be great, but many owners face a unique set of challenges regarding their water quality. Unlike some of their neighbors, who rely on municipally treated water, private well owners are responsible for making sure their water is free of toxins. Every year, their wells must be inspected for mechanical issues and cleanliness, but most importantly, how effectively they remove potentially harmful common contaminants found in well water.


Having contaminants in your well water can cause a laundry list of minor and major health concerns. They can range from headaches and nausea to gastrointestinal disease, reproductive issues, neurological disorders, and even cancer. According to a report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), more than 20 percent of domestic wells tested nationally contain at least one contaminant at levels potentially harmful to human health.


The best way to protect yourself from contaminants is to know what lurks in your well water. So together, let’s look at some of the most common contaminants found in well water and the best way to remove them from your water.




One of the most common contaminants found in well water aside from parasites, bacteria, and viruses is microorganisms. Runoff from heavy rains, even snowmelt can leach into water supplies and lead to private well pollution. That runoff can contain bacteria from animal waste, and when ingested, may result in digestive infections and gastrointestinal disease.



Nitrates are a prime example of how most things are potentially dangerous in excess amounts. This chemical can be found in many foods and is typically safe to ingest in small doses. However, if your drinking water contains excess amounts of nitrate, it can be potentially harmful to you and your family.


An excess in nitrates can come from many sources, including agricultural runoff like fertilizers or a private septic tank, or a blocked sewer. Another thing that can contribute to high nitrate levels is the geology of the land in your area. High nitrate levels are hazardous for pregnant women, children, and the elderly, as they can cause cancer and significant kidney issues.



Although arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element found in rocks and soil and has various purposes in agriculture, its presence in your well water can be a severe issue. Because it is naturally occurring, arsenic often enters water supplies from natural deposits in the earth through industrial and agricultural pollution.


This common contaminant found in well water can cause life-threatening issues like cancer, heart disease, and neurological problems. While arsenic isn’t found in every well, installing a whole house water filtration system can easily remove it from your water and your worries.


At the Science of Water, we take contaminants, pollutants, and toxins seriously! We are proud installers of Puronics residential water treatment systems that can filter out the pollutants on this list and much more.


Heavy Metals

Heavy metals such as selenium, chromium, copper, lead, and even mercury can be present in well water. Heavy metal contamination usually occurs due to groundwater movement or surface water seepage and drainage into the well water from another source. When humans or animals consume high levels of heavy metals, they are more likely to experience toxicity, which can cause a variety of physical problems.


Soil and Sediment

Perhaps the most well-known contaminant found in well water is soil and sediment. Because private wells are human-made, sediment and bedrock get pulled up when the well is drilled. Though sediment isn’t known to cause many health issues, it can cause an excess of mineral deposits in your water, affecting the taste, smell, and texture of your drinking water.


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

This contaminant may sound frightening, and rightly so. It is a term used to describe industrial chemicals that are particularly harmful to humans. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the most common VOCs found in American wells are chloroform, perchloroethylene (PCE), and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE).


Whether or not you need to be concerned about VOC pollution in your well water is determined by your home’s location. If you live near a gas station or a manufacturing facility, you need to be extra careful with your well water. MTBE is present in gasoline, although its use has decreased since 2005 due to environmental health problems.



Organic Chemicals

Be aware of the number of organic chemicals that can contaminate well water depending on your area, particularly in rural or agricultural communities or near industrial complexes. Pesticides, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products, and solvents are among the substances that may get released due to excessive waste disposal or spills.




Radon is a gas that is typically present in water but is difficult to detect. It has no taste, so you won’t be able to detect it. You can’t see it because it’s colorless. And because it has no flavor, you can drink it without knowing your water contains radon. It is a radioactive gas that is found in soil and rocks and is a naturally occurring chemical.


When you use water for tasks like showering or doing the dishes, this naturally occurring gas gets released into your house. Small quantities of radon won’t harm you, but, when it builds up over time, so do the possible consequences. Namely severe illnesses like lung cancer.





The Science of Water

Having quality drinking water in your home is a necessity, especially if you own a private well. In addition to the water issues that many other homeowners face, private well owners have a unique set of contaminants that plague their water sources. We hope that highlighting the common contaminants found in well water lends insight into what’s ahead if you’re interested in purchasing a home with a well. As previously mentioned, the best way to fix your water woes is with a whole house water filtration system by Puronics.


At the Science of Water, we have more than 35 years of experience in the water business. We are eager to help you experience the cleanest, best-tasting, contaminant-free water you’ve ever had. But first, we need to conduct a free water test to learn the ins and outs of your water.


If you’re interested in taking one of our free water tests or learning more about our services, contact us at (352) 745-7070 or (904) 580-0000.