HELENA — A new study done by the Lewis and Clark County Water Quality Protection District shows that more than half of the homes using well water in the Birdseye area have high arsenic levels.
The study sampled 17 homes and 53% had arsenic levels above EPA standards. The EPA’s standard threshold for arsenic in drinking water is 10 micrograms(µg)/L or 10 parts per billion (ppb).
The study also looked at the broader district where 19% of the 297 homes had higher than standard arsenic levels.
They said that the results don't come as a surprise due to the natural sources of arsenic in the area, including the Missouri River, geologic rock units surrounding the Helena valley, and mining activities.
Mining for gold and silver in the Marysville and Rimini areas, in addition to the smelting operations in East Helena, led to the increase of arsenic mobility in the waterways.
There are solutions to help decrease the consumption of arsenic. For example, installing systems in homes to help filter out arsenic, such as reverse osmosis or an ion exchange system.
A public meeting will be held to discuss the study's results at the Birdseye fire station on April 21st at 6:00 P.M.