More than two-thirds of the wells serving mobile home parks in southeastern New Hampshire have measurable amounts of the gasoline-additive MTBE in their water, as do one in six wells for private homes, according to a new study.
However, in virtually all of the wells, the additive was at a very low level. Only two wells, out of more than 300 tested in the state’s four southeastern counties, had MTBE above the level the state considers unsafe, according to tests done in 2005 and 2006.
There is considerable uncertainty in the medical community about the effect of the additive, which may cause cancer in some people. Still, the widespread presence of MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, raises concern.
“The take-home message is that homeowners should have their drinking-water wells analyzed,” said Fred McGarry, assistant director of the waste management division for the state Department of Environmental Services. “Everybody should do it.”
This is particularly true in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, where use of MTBE was mandated for years to fight air pollution from cars.