Nov. 26, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Public health officials are investigating why the blood test results of a limited number of individuals in Blackville show higher than normal levels of arsenic, Health Minister Mike Murphy announced today.
As a result, the Department of Health is offering free water testing for homeowners identified by the Village of Blackville to public health officials.
Other aspects of the investigation include assessing the reliability of the blood tests performed and trying to identify possible sources of exposure.
"My department has committed to testing wells in the surrounding area to reassure homeowners of the quality of their water," Murphy said. "The results will be reported to individual homeowners as they become available."
To date, no obvious exposure source has been identified. The results available currently suggest that well water is not the source. Testing of affected people's wells showed that arsenic levels were acceptable.
Arsenic is widely distributed throughout the Earth's crust; it may be, therefore, a natural contaminant in drinking water. Low levels of arsenic in water are common and do not usually cause elevated levels in blood.
Other sources of arsenic exposure may be from a variety of commercial products as well as from some food and natural or herbal remedies.
The Department of Health advises all private well owners to test their water quality regularly. Testing should be done twice annually for microbiological contamination, and every two years for inorganic compounds such as arsenic and uranium.
MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Cumby, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522.