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Health Indicator Report of Mercury in Private Wells

People may be exposed to mercury from a variety of sources, including drinking water. Mercury, carried by wind and rain, is found throughout the environment mostly due to the release of naturally occurring mercury from rock and soil; burning of coal and oil that contains small amounts of mercury; release of mercury from metal smelters; and incineration of materials that contain mercury, such as batteries. Too much mercury in the human body can cause serious damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys. Young children and developing fetuses are at greatest risk for harmful effects of mercury.

Mercury in Private Wells, Percent of Tested Wells Exceeding MCL, by County, September 2002 through December 2018


Mercury testing of private wells is required in these nine NJ counties under the NJ Private Well Testing Act. Denominator is the number of tested private wells. Data Source: NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water Supply and Geoscience, and Division of Science, Research, and Environmental Health, obtained on March 2, 2020.

Data Interpretation Issues

Nine southern New Jersey counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Monmouth, Ocean, and Salem) are required by the New Jersey Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) to monitor for mercury. All sampled wells are located within the Coastal Plain province. Less than one percent of the wells contained mercury levels above the drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 2 ug/l. The source of mercury in these private wells is not clear.


Percent of tested private wells with mercury levels exceeding the maximum contaminant level of 2 micrograms per liter (ug/l)


Number of tested private wells with mercury levels exceeding the maximum contaminant level of 2 ug/l in a specified period of time


Number of tested private wells in a specified period of time

How Are We Doing?

Between September 2002 and December 2018, less than 1% of 55,502 private wells in New Jersey tested for mercury exceeded the MCL of 2 micrograms per liter. Mercury exceedances were most commonly found in Camden (2.7% of wells), Atlantic (1.8% of wells), Cumberland (1.7% of wells) and Gloucester (1.5% of wells) Counties. Online maps showing mercury exceedances are available at the county level, municipal level, and for 2 mile by 2 mile grids from NJDEP, [].

What Is Being Done?

The New Jersey Private Well Testing Act (N.J.S.A. 58:12A-26 et seq.) became effective in September 2002. The PWTA requires the buyer or the seller of a property to test untreated well water prior to the sale and review the results prior the closing of title. It also requires landlords to test the private well water supplied to their tenants every five years and provide their tenants with a written copy of the results. The data generated by this program are provided to the homeowners by the laboratory performing the analyses and then sent to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). The NJDEP notifies local health agencies when a well within their jurisdiction is tested under the PWTA. The data from the PWTA are used by NJDEP to assess the quality of the water from private wells throughout the state.

Available Services

If your drinking water comes from a private well, you are responsible for testing. The NJDEP recommends that you use a laboratory that is NJDEP-certified. You can call the NJDEP Office of Quality Assurance at (609) 292-3950 for information on laboratories certified to test drinking water or look for the information online at: [] using the "Search by Category" option, select "Certified Laboratories", and search for "Certified Drinking Water Labs", "PWTA Laboratories Certified for Sampling", or "Laboratories Certified by Parameter". Testing is required for sale of residential real estate when a private well is the source of drinking water. For more information, contact the NJDEP Private Well Testing Program at (866) 479-8378 or visit: [] Private Well Testing Act Frequently Asked Questions: [] NJ Private Well Testing Act Data Summary, by county, municipality, and 2 mile by 2 mile grid: [] NJDOH Drinking Water Facts: Private Wells, [] NJDOH Drinking Water and Public Health Project, [] To inquire about New Jersey well permitting and regulation, contact the NJDEP Division of Water Supply at (609) 984-6831. For information on federal drinking water regulations, and other water safety issues, contact the United States Environmental Protection Agency Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.
Page Content Updated On 03/03/2020, Published on 03/03/2020
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Mon, 04 March 2024 13:55:35 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

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