Should I test my home private water system in a farming community for pesticides? #236027 - Ask Extension


Should I test my home private water system in a farming community for pesticides? #236027

Asked April 10, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

I am planning to buy a home in Delta County Colorado. With all the farming in Delta County, would you recommend I test my private water system (a well) for pesticides? If yes, which pesticides do I need to test for? 
Also can I buy/use a home water filtration system to remove 99% of these pesticides if they are in my water supply?

Delta County Colorado

Expert Response

Hello and thank you for the question.  Delta has about 251,000 acres of land in farms.  About 42,000 acres of this total is the harvested portion, which is where most pesticides would be used.  The rest is pastureland, primarily. I'm reporting general statistics from USDA-NASS.  Would I recommend you test your private water well for pesticides?  Tests for pesticides and other organic contaminants are expensive and usually not recommended unless you have reason to suspect contamination. But, if this is a concern for you, the cost may not be prohibitive.

You can also find out more about private well water quality on the USGS website:

If you are new to the home and the area, it would be reasonable to have the well water tested before your home purchase.  Rather than focusing on testing for pesticides only, however, most people who own private wells will tend to select a well testing "package" offered by most EPA accredited labs.  The packages with which I'm the most familiar can be found at  the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) from the link below.

There is a "General Colorado Package" for instance that tests for arsenic, hardness, coliform bacteria, copper, fluoride, iron, lead, nitrate/nitrite, uranium.  

Back to your question about pesticides, however.  It is difficult to test for individual pesticides, since the formulas tend to proprietary.  However, The CDPHE has a "Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Screen" which is kind of a "catch-all" for pestidices, which are complex, but can be picked up by this screen.  The cost is $106

I can't definitively state that you can get a filter that will remove 99% of all pesticides, but activated carbon filters and reverse osmosis will remove some pesticides and VOCs.   You will want to check to specifications on the units that you look at (from Lowe's or Home Depot , etc.).

Perry Cabot Replied April 16, 2015, 8:17 PM EDT

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