Nov. 18, 2009: Test your water for chemicals

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To The Editor:
I have always been concerned about the number of cancer diagnosis in the area.  I know that cancer is high everywhere, but here it seems much higher per capita.
Recently my German Sheppard had a kidney removed; the biopsy came back as Mestatic Renal Carcinoma, an aggressive kidney cancer rarely seen in a dog so young, he is three or four.  So I decided to have my well water tested.  The water is contaminated.  It tested positive for “coliform” which in itself is not harmful, but it does open the door for many other pathogens, like e-coli.  
A friend living on Dry Brook Road as well, started having serious stomach anomalies that were not resolved or controlled by various medications.  He also had his water tested and it also came back positive for coliform and positive for ecoli.  While there is not definitive proof that coliform itself causes cancer, because coliform is a contaminate and opens the door to other pathogens, there is a chance that a carcinogen could come through. There is a group testing various coliforms to see if there may be a connection to coliform and cancer.  This is a response I received from a national lab.
“Coliform bacteria are generally not harmful to healthy people.  The reason that they are tested for is because they (coliform) are healthy bacteria that live through the sampling and testing process.  They are present in contaminated systems and therefore if present, your water supply is unfit for human (and pet) consumption.   I have never read any articles that correlate coliform to cancer, however, since coliforms are present due to contamination; the source of this contamination may possibly be contaminated with carcinogens also.
Testing for carcinogens is expensive.  There is a similar situation on a point in a lake just north of Brainard.  At least 70 percent of the people who move onto the point and live there for an extended period of time develop some sort of cancer.  We’ve been trying to figure it out for 20 years.”  
There is a person who does various tests for water related carcinogens (GC X GC mass specs) and will be submitting water for these tests. Coliforms can cause stomach irritation similar to heartburn, diarrhea and continued urinary, kidney and bladder infections/irritations.
I urge everyone with a well to get their water tested, especially after all the rain and snow we have had over the past year. There is no telling what contaminates the run off has brought in.
The test is only $30 and can be taken to Catskill Regional Water testing lab in Delhi.

Pat Kitchen,
Arkville