Proving the causation of cancer is difficult to do. But when there are is a high amount of cancer in a small area, people begin to speculate.
Pamela Mackie of Delta Mills has counted 13 people whom have had or still have cancer around her block. She feels that there must be some sort of link, and her first assumption: the water.
“We do have a concern — just a suspicion,” Mackie said. “I mean, a lot of cancer is in this area, and we obviously can’t prove if it’s related to the water.”
Mackie installed a water filtration system for her well water after her father was diagnosed with colon cancer for the second time.
When it comes to finding out if the water is a problem, Mackie said she is uncertain of where to begin.
George Krisztian, assistant director of the Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, does not recommend jumping to conclusions.
“There would have to be a more detailed investigation. You can’t say something universally about that,” Krisztian said. “We want to make sure that residents aren’t over testing, because testing can become quite expensive depending on what it is that you get tested.”
DEQ spokeswoman Melanie Brown said those with concerns about their well water should start by contacting their local county health department.
“Their local county health departments, all across the state, work in tandem with our state Department of Health and Human Services along with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to look more closely at any potential issues or concerns that residents may have about the environmental health of their neighborhood or their community,” Brown said.
Brown says that the departments will look into the past to try and see if there could be contaminants.
“We, many times, will initiate investigations based on historic data that we may have access to, past legacy environmental health issues that may be present in that community, or even current environmental health threats that could be contributing to their concerns,” Brown said.
Krisztian has recommendations for those worried with well water who happen to live in rural areas, as they may be more susceptible to groundwater contamination.
“If they say they do live near a bunch of farms, then, what we would recommend to them is to get their water tested for total coliform and also to get it tested for nitrate, and depending on what area they are in the state, they may want to consider arsenic,” Krisztian said.
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests testing your well water annually, especially if a resident is or is planning to become pregnant.