DOCs for Truro Safe Water, a group of scientists and doctors from Truro and the Outer Cape, have just issued an informative report called Private Wells and Truro Safe Water. This group has come together to address the science behind key issues affecting health and safety of people and the environment in Truro and the Outer Cape.
The evidence cited in this report is incontrovertible in linking nitrate levels below 5 mg/L – and in some cases as low as 1 mg/L – to serious health conditions in humans including, among other conditions, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, thyroid, bladder, colorectal and ovarian cancers, brain tumors in children, and multiple birth defects.
Its findings, conclusions and recommendations paint a more serious and urgent need to address Truro’s well water safety than had heretofore been considered. They suggest that certain areas of Truro are in more pressing need of attention several areas in North Truro and the Pamet River Basin – especially those that face cluster development “up-gradient,” that is, where groundwater flows from a higher level to a lower level underground.
This report was researched, peer-reviewed and prepared to present the scientific evaluations and the history and evolution of scientific thinking since 1945 of the relationship between nitrate levels in drinking water and serious health consequences in humans. [It did not look at research on effects on other life forms or other natural water environments, but the findings here would likely apply.]
It has no editorial opinion or desired outcome, other than for the science to inform and lead relevant policy and regulation in Truro. Only the Truro Board of Health can regulate and enforce water quality standards; no federal or state agencies do so.
You can read:
The two-page Executive Summary here
In Truro, 85% of residences rely on private wells for drinking water. However, the conclusions and recommendations could apply anywhere on Cape where residents and businesses rely on well water also.
Many experts and organizations domestically and internationally have called for the maximum contaminant level for nitrate to be set between 1 mg/L and 5 mg/L. Not a single scientific evaluation since 1996 relies upon or recommends any nitrate level higher than 5 mg/L notwithstanding the EPA standard of 10 mg/L, unchanged since 1962.
The conclusion, simply put, is this:
“Since 1996, increasing evidence of harmful effects of nitrate concentrations on human health are found at ever lower levels; the arc of this trend has been consistent and irrefutable, finding significant health consequences at and below nitrate levels of 5 mg/L. Well below current EPA and Truro Board of Health standard of 10mg/L, these findings warrant consideration and possible revision to reset local standards consistently with current scientific evaluations for nitrate and nitrate loading levels at or under 5 mg/L as a pressing local matter. In addition, it is now evident that nitrates serve as a marker for human activity, the source of other harmful organic and chemical contaminants, many of which are not easily reducible and pose serious risks of cancer and other health problems to residents.”
The report recommends that the Truro Board of Health formally adopt a Maximum Contamination limit for nitrate concentration standard of 5 mg/L, consistent with current scientific understanding of the links between nitrates and health.