For a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, have your water tested while you are pregnant. Testing water from private wells before your baby is born is very important to make sure that the water in your household is safe for you and your baby.
Private water supplies are not tested or regulated by the public health department. It is your responsibility to make sure your family's water is safe. You can not always see, taste, or smell contaminants that may be a health risk. The only way to identify if they are in your drinking water is to have your water tested at a laboratory.
Nitrate in drinking water presents a serious problem for infants up to about six months of age. Through changes in a baby's stomach too much nitrate can reduce the amount of oxygen carried by blood. This can cause "blue baby syndrome" (methemoglobinemia) in which fingertips, toes, and/or lips turn blue due to insufficient oxygen. Blue baby syndrome may be misdiagnosed when parents or doctors assume the baby is just cold. In severe cases blue baby syndrome can be life threatening.
Never boil water that has nitrate in it. Boiling concentrates nitrate in the water left in the pan and can make the problem worse. Nitrate levels can be reduced by using reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis is not safe for water that has bacteria in it. If you are pregnant or have small children, you may also want to test for lead or fluoride.
How Much Will it Cost?
What to Test For
The MN Department of Health has advisory guidelines for contaminants in private wells. The health-based limit for nitrates is 10 parts per million (ppm). Water containing nitrates at levels above 10 ppm should never be given to infants less than 6 months old.
When to Test
Some contaminants pose a health risk to the baby during the pregnancy while others are a risk after birth. Have your water tested before bringing home an adopted infant or having other children visit. Wells less than 50 feet deep or older than 25 years should be tested every year.
Where to have your Water Tested
COUNTRYSIDE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE
Carefully follow directions as you take the water sample and deliver it to the lab. Water must be analyzed within 24 hours after it is collected to provide reliable results.
What if Water is Unsafe?
If analysis shows that your water is unsafe, you may be able to treat it. Contact our office or a licensed well contractor for further guidelines on reducing contamination levels in your well water.
Water contaminated with bacteria can be disinfected by boiling water or by chlorinating the well. Minnesota Department of Health Wells Division factsheet on disinfecting noncommunity public water supply.
Who can provide more information on....?
Ask your doctor or contact:
• Private interests such as analytical labs, water well contractors and water treatment distributors.