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MURPHYSBORO — The Jackson County Health Department will be testing well water in the county for lead.

Residents of Jackson County served by private water wells may be eligible for free testing for lead. The Health Department is participating in a research project with researchers from the University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University to better determine the presence of lead in private water wells in three Illinois counties.

In a news release, the department said while public water supplies have strict regulations and oversight related to lead, there is sparse data on lead in private well-water supplies. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, ingesting water with lead could bring on cardiovascular effects, meaning increased blood pressure and hypertension for adults. Additionally, decreased kidney function and reproductive problems in both men and woman are potential issues.

For children, behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, and anemia are among the effects from drinking lead-contaminated water.

“We are excited for Jackson County to participate in this research project and help collect data on the presence of lead in private drinking water supplies,” said Bart Hagston, director of the division of environmental health and emergency preparedness at the health department. “This will save residents the $40 cost to test their well water themselves. What we need now is to have residents served by private water wells to contact us to initiate participation.”

Residents interested in participating in the project can call the health department at 618-684-3143. The department will ask a couple of questions to determine eligibility. The department says 75 participants will be selected from the project and residents from all throughout the county served by private wells. The department says it doesn’t matter if the participant is a renter or homeowner.

Those individuals selected to participate will have a water sample kit delivered to their home by the department. The participants will receive instructions on how to test the water and send it back in. Test results will be sent to the resident about two months later. The project is expected be finished by January.

For more information, call the health department or visit


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Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

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