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Water Sampling and Testing


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Water Sampling and Testing

APECS, Inc. offers several options and packages to suit your water testing needs. In addition, we can provide many “a la carte” testing of Chemicals, VOC (volatile organic compounds), and IC (inorganic compounds). Our inspectors are certified Maryland Water Samplers through the Maryland Department of Environment Health, and have been approved for the collection of drinking water under The Safe Drinking Water Act and all state regulations. The MDE recommends having your water tested or sampled once yearly.

Conventional Real Estate Package (Standard Water Test) Includes:

• Testing for Total Coliform Bacteria
• Testing for Total Fecal Coliform Bacteria
• Testing For Nitrate-N
• Testing for Sand
• Testing for Turbidity
• Testing for PH Level
• Testing for Chlorine Level
• Testing water temperature
• Certified accredited Maryland State laboratory analysis report
• Chain of Custody report

FHA and VA Real Estate Package Includes:

• Testing for Total Coliform Bacteria
• Testing for Total Fecal Coliform Bacteria
• Testing For Nitrate-N
• Testing for Nitrite-N
• Testing for Iron
• First Draw Lead test
• Testing for Sand
• Testing for Turbidity
• Testing for PH Level
• Testing for Chlorine Level
• Testing water temperature
• Certified accredited Maryland State laboratory analysis report
• Chain of Custody report

Use and Occupancy (U&O) For New Home Construction Includes:

• Testing for Total Coliform Bacteria (taken twice generally one week apart)
• Testing for Total Fecal Coliform Bacteria (taken twice generally one week apart)
• Testing For Nitrate-N
• Testing for Sand
• Testing for Turbidity
• Testing for PH Level
• Testing for Chlorine Level
• Testing water temperature
• Certified accredited Maryland State laboratory analysis report
• Chain of Custody report· Filing with the local County Health dept. for the U&O Temporary (1st), and the Final (2nd)

Disinfecting A Well

• Remove the well cover. Pour required amount of bleach into the well. (see chart below)

If your well depth is less than 150 feet use 1 qt. of household bleach
If your well is from 151 - 300 feet use 2 qts. of household bleach
If your well is 301 feet or more use 1 gal. of household bleach plus above

NOTE: The above table is for wells with a CASING SIX INCHES IN DIAMETER. If the well casing is not six inches in diameter, then figure the following:

1. Multiply the well casing diameter (in inches) by itself. (Square the diameter)
2. Multiply the results by the depth of the well. (in feet)
3. Multiply the results by .0302 to figure the required amount (quarts) of bleach.

Example: A 7” well casing on a 350 foot well = 7x7 = 49 x 350 = 17.150 x .0302 = 5 quarts

This will give you the Number of Quarts of Bleach required for disinfecting. Round off the number to the nearest HIGHER whole number to be safe. It is better to over-chlorinate than to under-chlorinate.

• Run all the faucets in the house, one at a time, until you smell the chlorine at the faucet. This ensures that the whole system is getting disinfected.
• Connect a garden hose to an outside faucet or an indoor tap with the correct threaded fitting. Put the other end of the hose into the well, turn on the faucet, and from time to time move the hose around so that the chlorinated water bathes the sidewalls of the well casing. Do this for at least six hours. Also disinfect the well casing cover. Then turn off the tap and remove the hose from the well.
• Replace the well cover.
• DON'T USE THE WATER for at least twelve hours. Forty-eight hours is optimal. Consider taking a weekend vacation, or using bottled water!
• Run the water to waste but NOT INTO THE SEPTIC SYSTEM for several hours, or until the chlorine odor is dilute enough to be unobjectionable. The best way to run the water to waste is to use a garden hose as mentioned above. Direct the hose into an area were the chlorinated water would not cause environmental damage or affect the water supply of others. For a typical well, this will take three or four hours.

NOTE: Constantly monitor the water flow to avoid pump overheating and possible damages, turn off the water if flow slows down to a trickle and wait at least 15-20 minutes before resuming the flush.

• Test for the presence of residual chlorine using DPP 1 and DPP 3 tablets.
• After testing the chlorine levels and the system has been flushed properly, retest for bacteria.
• In some cases, one chlorination treatment Will Not be sufficient. Repeat the disinfection procedures as needed.

Optional Water Tests Are Provided At Additional Costs

To Customize Your Own Drinking Water Package:

• Testing for Metals such as Lead, Iron, Copper, Mercury, Magnesium, Aluminum, etc. in the water
• Testing Chemicals such as Phosphate, Sulfate, Fluoride, Arsenate, etc. in the water
• Testing for VOC such as Radon, MTBE Methyl-t-Butyl-Ether, etc, in the water
• Well Flow Rates which provide the wells out put GPM (gallons per minute)
• Well Inspections

A brief explanation of the most common problems found in Drinking water***

ALKALINITY TOTAL - Alkalinity is water, also known as buffering capacity, is the combination of carbonate, bicarbonate, and hydroxide ions. High readings of alkalinity in water can cause copper tubing to pit and leaks can occur. Some metals will deteriorate very fast when exposed to high levels of alkalinity in water.

ACIDIC WATER - Acidic water has a pH level of less than 7. Corrosive or acidic water can leach metals from pipes into drinking water. Lead leached into drinking water can cause developmental delays in children. In adults, lead can cause kidney problems and high blood pressure. Copper can cause gastrointestinal distress, or liver and kidney damage. Correct the pH level and solve the problem.

BACTERIA - The most likely source of acute water-borne disease, E-Coli Bacteria and other potentially dangerous microbes are commonly found in our environment, but they should not be present in our drinking water. Thousands of cases of bacteria illness occur every year, many of them fatal. Many strains of bacteria are not toxic, but some can cause very serious illness. Even mild cases can result in diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Young children and those with weaker immunity are more likely to be affected. Since contaminated water may not taste or smell “bad”, most cases of water-borne disease are not likely to be identified as such. The presence of bacteria in drinking water indicates that treatment methods are not working properly and are not adequate to remove all viable microbes. When treatment fails, drinking water may become potentially toxic. Community water systems take steps to disinfect drinking water, but they may not become aware of problems until it’s too late. This bacteria was first recognized as a cause of illness in 1982. Toxic bacteria may enter the water supply from human or animal wastes, or natural sources. Multiplying rapidly, they may release a variety of potent, damage-causing molecules called Endotoxins into the water. Correct the problem by having your well given a Chlorine Dies-infection. EPA standard level is 0.

CHLORINE - Drinking chlorine in small amounts may not hurt you, but chlorine by-products can. The consumption of chlorine in very small amounts most likely will not cause you serious harm. What may be harmful, however, are the by-products, including chloroform, which is produced by chlorine when mixed with organic matter. EPA standard is 4 mg/L.

CHLORIDE (Ci-) - Chlorides enter our drinking water naturally from sea water and the dissolving of minerals and sedimentary rock. Contamination can also occur from wastewater treatment facilities and mining operations. It is important to test regularly for chloride since levels above 250ppm can cause corrosion of pipes, toxicity to plants, and an unpleasant taste in drinking water. Correct the problem with De-ionization, Reverse Osmosis.

CHROMIUM - Chromium is a heavy metal found in natural deposits as ores, and is abundant in soils and plants. Naturally occurring chromium is rarely found in water. Some of the largest sources of chromium contamination to our drinking water are from chemical manufacturing and from the combustion of natural gas, oil and coal. EPA primary drinking water standard is 0.1 ppm.

COPPER (Cu+1/Cu+2) - Copper may exist in water and other solutions as a soluble ion and primarily occurs in drinking water from it use in plumbing materials. It is important to detect copper since it has been shown to cause stomach and intestinal distress, liver and Kinney damage, and anemia. EPA primary drinking water standard is 1.3ppm.

FLUORIDE - An element that occurs naturally in water from erosion of natural deposits. It is also found in some fertilizers and as a by-product of aluminum factories. The current standard is set ant less than 4ppm. Fluoride can promote strong teeth. However, fluoride may cause bone disease and contribute to mottled teeth in children. Correct the problem with and Ion-exchange, reverse Osmosis.

HARDNESS, TOTAL (Ca+2) - Calcium and Magnesium are naturally occurring minerals responsible for water hardness. Hardness is a key water chemistry parameter and its control is important to help assure proper water quality. Low levels of calcium and magnesium (soft water) can contribute to problems of corrosive water. High calcium and magnesium leaves, especially above 400ppm, can lead to possible water clarity problems and scaling. There are various commercially-available softeners that can help minimize the problems associated with high hardness levels. EPA standard level 50ppm.

IRON (Fe+2) - The presence of dissolved iron in water can have negative consequences. It can lead to stained clothes, corrosion of pipes and fixtures, and a foul taste in drinking water. Correct the problem with water softeners, Catalytic oxidizing filters, Oxidation-filtration system, Chlorination, or Ozonation if iron bacteria are present. EPA standard level 0.3 mg/L.

LEAD (Pb+2) - Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal in the earth’s crust. For many years, lead was added to gasoline, paints, and other consumer materials. However, exposure to lead can be harmful. Lead from pipes can leach into household water used for drinking, cooking and washing. Many homes and building shave pipes and plumbing fixtures that contain lead. Lead can leach from pipes into household water, making this plumbing a major source of water contamination and a potential source of toxic lead poisoning. Lead is so toxic that even very low levels may be dangerous. Lead consumption and poisoning has been linked to many serious illnesses, especially in young children. Lead can harm mental and physical development and may cause brain abnormalities, kidney damage and hypertension. As with other water contaminants, the risk of lead damage is much greater for children than for adults, families should be particularly concerned about the health of the water supply. Consumers should test lead levels at each faucet in the home, especially if the plumbing fixtures could be from the 1980’s or older. Lead from pipes can leach into household water used for drinking, cooking and washing. EPA standard level is 0.

MANGANESE (Mn+2) - Manganese minerals are widely distributed in the Earth’s crust and can be introduced from industrial run-off and other effluents. The presence of manganese in your water can cause a bitter taste and, at higher levels, staining of laundry and plumbing fixtures. EPA secondary drinking water standard is 0.05mg/l.. Correct the problem with water softeners or oxidizing filter.

METALS, HEAVY (Co+2, Cd+2, Zn+2, Cu+2, and more) - The presence of heavy metals in water can cause many problems. In the home, heavy metal presence can come from corrosion of pipes and fixtures and from storing water in stainless steel storage containers.

Methyl tert-Butyl Ether (MTBE) – is a flammable liquid with a distinctive, disagreeable odor and turpentine taste at 20-40 ppb. It is made from blending chemicals such as isobutylene and methanol and has been used since the 1980’s as an additive for unleaded gasoline to achieve more efficient burning. Generally more resistant to natural biodegradation than other gasoline components; some monitored wells have shown little overall reduction in MTBE concentration levels over several years, which suggest that MTBE is relatively persistent once it enters the ground water. At this time, there is little data on the effects in people of drinking MTBE. Studies with rats and mice have links to gastrointestinal irritation, liver and kidney damage, nervous system failure, and cancer. There is no set MCL for MTBE although the EPA has proposed a MCL of 20.0 ppb as a benchmark when determining a Pass/Fail parameter. Correcting failed MCL’s results requires a several staged treatment and filtration system being installed.

NITRATE/NITRITE NITROGEN (NO3-INO2-) - A common yet incredibly harmful pollutant especially to children and small animals. When animal and human wastes or field fertilizers come into contact with water, they show up as nitrates and nitrites. Both are serious contaminants because they affect the very core of human life-birth and the development of young life. In 1992, when the survey was released, some 22,500 infants drinking domestic well water were estimated to be exposed to levels of nitrates exceeding the EPA safe drinking water limits of below 10ppm for Nitrate/Nitrite and below 1ppm for Nitrite. Correct the problem with an Ion exchange, Reverse Osmosis.

PESTICIDE (ATRAZINE/SIMAZINE) - Pesticide ingestion and inhalation can damage internal organs, cause cancer and eventually even cause death. The world Health Organization estimates that one-half of the ground and well water in the U.S. is contaminated with pesticides, resulting in 20,000 deaths each year. EPA standard level is 0.

PH - PH measurement is one of the most commonly performed tests in the lab and in the majority of industrial processes. Abnormal PH levels can cause heavy metal(lead) leaching, causing plumbing damage. Safe range 6.5 to 8.5 units.

PHENOLS(C6H5OH) - Phenolic compounds in trace amounts less tan 1ppm can have significantly detrimental effects on water quality. Phenols can cause water and fish to taste and smell unpleasant. Phenols are toxic to mammals and fish. The US EPA recommends a maximum of 1ppb for a total phenolic compounds in domestic water supplies. In the presence of potassium ferricyanide, phenol acts as an oxidizing agent and reacts with 4-Aminoantipyrine to form a colored antipyrine dye.

Radon - A colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas. Formed from the decay of naturally occurring minerals containing radioactive elements. Radon becomes radon gas hen vaporized. Radon gas has been linked to increased rates of lung cancer. Scientists remain unclear of the effects of radon in drinking water. Correct the problem with Aeration. Action level 300 pCi/L.

SALT - Ocean (TDS) It is important to know if tidal water or wells near the sea are brackish.9( test determines if water has salt content)

SULFIDE (S-2) - Hydrogen Sulfide (h3S) is a flammable, poisonous gas with a characteristic rotten egg smell. Concentrations of 0.02 to 0.1 ppm are detectable by the average person. Hydrogen sulfide is evolved from numerous environmental sources such as bacterial decomposition of vegetables and animal material. It occurs naturally as a component of crude oil, natural gas, volcanic gas, and sulfur springs and also as a pollutant of a variety of industrial operations including wastewater treatment plants.

TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLIDS (TDS) - on conductivity test for dissolved materials in drinking water. TDS comprise inorganic salts (principally calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides and sulfates) and some small amounts of organic matter that are dissolve in water. TDS in drinking water originates from natural sources, sewage, urban run-off, industrial wastewater, and chemicals used in the water treatment process and the nature of the piping or hardware used to convey the water, i.e., the plumbing. In the United States, elevated TDS has been due to natural environmental features such as: mineral springs, carbonate deposits, salt deposits, and sea water intrusion, but other sources can include: salts used for road de-icing, anti-skid materials, drinking water treatment chemicals, storm water and agricultural runoff, an point/non-point wastewater discharges. High TDS may affect the aesthetic quality of the water, interfere with washing clothes and corroding plumbing fixtures. EPA Secondary drinking water Standard is 500 ppm for TDS.

TURBIDITY AND COLOR - Visual haziness in water. Discolored water may be caused by organic compounds or metallic ions. Turbidity has no health effect, per se, but it can interfere with disinfectants and provide a medium for bacteria to grow. Correct the problem with filtration. EPA standard level 5 NTU.

ZINC (Zn+2) - Zinc can occur naturally in drinking water. However, contamination can also occur from galvanized pipes corroded by acid or soft water. Zinc in water normally does not pose a health risk, but high levels of zinc can cause temporary stomach irritation. EPA standard Level 5mg/L.

U.S. Government Links


The US Government EPA @ www.epa.gov/waterscience web site for the updated and current Drinking water Standards and Health Advisories tables.

Maryland Department of Environmental Health MDE @ www.mde.state.md.us/Water/index.asp

***The descriptions above are brief summaries of some of the water quality contaminants and their desired EPA Levels and should only be used as a quick reference.


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Cecil County, Harford County and surrounding counties in Maryland!

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Nottingham, MD  21236
License # 29775

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