Researchers To Study Lead Prevalence In Private Wells

Mar 14, 2018

The research nonprofit RTI International and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are funding an effort to test water at 300 Wake County households for lead.
Credit Let Ideas Compete / Flickr, Creative Commons,

Researchers from UNC Chapel Hill and the nonprofit RTI international want to study the prevalence of lead in private wells in Wake County.

Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays in young children. Environmental Sciences and Engineering Professor Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson says customers of public water utilities shouldn't take drinking water for granted.

“People really should be testing their water on a regular basis if they get their water from a private well,” Gibson said. “And if there's lead found, there are easy solutions to fix that problem.”

Private wells don't usually have the same anti-corrosion maintenance, Gibson said. But depending on the level of lead present, households can either flush the tap before drinking water, or install water treatment systems.

Gibson is looking for 300 study participants in Wake County. The households should have a child under the age of 7 and use a private well.

“Kids who are exposed to lead at very young ages have poorer performance in school, you know if the exposure isn't stopped and addressed, than kids who are not exposed,” she said.

Researchers will conduct lead tests of tap water and the child's blood. Households interested in participating in the study should call the Clean Water for Private Wells study hotline at 919-843-5786 or email