Is it safe to water vegetables in well water that contains arsenic?
I have arsenic in my well water. Is it safe to eat vegetables that were grown in that environment, watered with well water containing arsenic?
Marjorie Peronto, Extension Educator
I assume that you’ve had your water tested and know the concentration level of arsenic. As you will see in these two fact sheets, it is considered unsafe to irrigate your garden with water containing arsenic at a concentration of 100 parts per billion (or 100 micrograms per liter) or higher.
- Oregon State University bulletin Arsenic in Well Water
- Maine CDC Bulletin Arsenic in Your Well Water
It is considered unsafe to drink water with an arsenic concentration of 10 parts per billion (or 10 micrograms per liter) or higher.
If your water is below 100 ppb and you choose to irrigate your garden with it, you may want to use trickle (or drip) irrigation to avoid getting water on the leafy greens that are hard to clean, like savoy leaf spinach. You also may want to avoid using it on root crops (potatoes, carrots… basically plant storage organisms) as it can accumulate in those vegetables. Fruiting vegetables (tomatoes, peppers) do not tend to take arsenic in and move it to the fruit.