Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 25-4
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM


LAWLOR, Kathrin and RARDIN, Laurie, Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755

Forty-six percent[i] of the population in New Hampshire (NH), depends on private wells for their water supply, and of those, an estimated 15-20% have arsenic at or above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limit of 10 parts per billion for public water supplies. However, many private well owners are still not aware of the importance of testing their drinking water on a regular basis and of those who are, many choose not to test.

Over the last 6 years, the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program’s Community Engagement and Research Translation Cores have worked with partners to understand knowledge, attitudes and behavior of private well owners pertaining to their testing and treatment for arsenic in drinking water. Based on our research results, we have designed specific community engagement activities intended to increase awareness and decrease exposure over time.

Engagement efforts have included a variety of activities including:

  • A comprehensive survey looking at the rates of, and barriers to, testing and treatment by private well owners in NH
  • Implementation and testing of community level interventions designed to increase well water testing and overall knowledge of arsenic
  • Creation and promotion of the first comprehensive arsenic website
  • Cohosting the annual NH Arsenic Consortium meeting with partners from US Geological Survey and NH Department of Environmental Services and Health and Human Services
  • Partnering with the NH Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration to draft an arsenic objective in the NH Cancer Plan
  • Working with schools to plan town specific education events
  • Interviewing community members and experts to develop a mental model of arsenic which will identify knowledge gaps and misperceptions to aid in the development and refinement of education and outreach messages and tools

We will discuss these efforts and others while providing relevant insights and lessons learned from this long-term engagement effort. We will also discuss proposed next steps.

[i] A survey by NH Department of Health and Human Services in 2006 found 44.4 percent of households using private wells. Source: JoAnne Miles, September 7, 2007Drinking Water Source Data Brief, N.H. Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. In 2014 NHDES revised the estimate to 46 percent as of 2010 based on new wells drilled since 2006.