Well Water Safety

Well water

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has provided a policy statement for ensuring the water children drink from private wells is safe.

Water quality can be affected by factors such as climate change, with children being more susceptible to illness from water quality than adults. There are over 23 million households in the United States relying on water from private wells which risk contamination without proper maintenance and testing.

The AAP’s policy statement, “Drinking Water from Private Wells and Risks to Children,” provided updated recommendations for inspecting, testing, and remediating private wells. This policy statement also noted how many wells are still unregulated by federal or state government.

“It’s important to know, when children drink well water at home, childcare, school, or a travel destination, whether that well water has been regularly tested for coliform bacteria, nitrates, and other chemicals,” said Alan D. Woolf, MD, MPH, FAAP. “Families may not be aware that natural disasters, such as floods, can affect well water, as well as chemical spills or new agricultural, fracking, or industrial operations nearby.”

According to the policy statement, children are more likely than adults to become ill because of contaminated water. Various regions also have different natural chemical compositions of water, which can also be affected by underlying geologic formation and type of aquifer. 

Chemicals such as nitrate and nitrite, heavy metals, organic chemicals, and radionuclides can cause illness, hospitalization, and death.

Recommendations for pediatricians include familiarizing themselves with how issues such as climate change and fracking affect water quality, becoming familiar with well water considerations in the area and advocating for safe water practices, and asking families whether they drink from a private well in any context.

The AAP also recommended testing well water for fluoride levels, along with encouraging health care providers to counsel families on safe drinking and families to stop using water from private wells and consult their local or state health department if they are concerned about contamination.


American Academy of Pediatrics updates policy statement on safety of water from private wells. January 30, 2023. Accessed January 30, 2023. https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2022/american-academy-of-pediatrics-updates-policy-statement-on-safety-of-water-from-private-wells/

You can also learn more about well water safety here at healthychildren.org

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