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VOCs in Private Wells

What actions can I take?

  • Consider testing your well if you live near an old landfill or gas station and have a well. The water test should look for VOCs and, specifically, chlorinated solvents.
  • Report any VOC problems to your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) office.
  • Recycle your waste. Send old paint, fertilizer, and other chemicals to your local community clean sweep program.

Old landfills and gas stations are common sources of VOCs

Typically, wells contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOC) are located near industrial or commercial areas, like gas stations, landfills, or railroad tracks.

Although the health effects vary depending on the VOC, high levels of some VOCs may increase the risk of cancer; liver damage; spasms; and impaired speech, hearing, and vision.

Learn what is happening around the state to address VOC issues in groundwater.

Landfills are now built to contain these chemicals

In the past, old landfills were located in areas thought to have little value, such as gravel pits, ravines, swamps or other lands. When it rained, the water could seep into the waste and carry chemicals to the groundwater below. Many old landfills had no liners to prevent groundwater contamination. Today, modern landfills are designed for safety. Landfills built since the mid-1980s are designed and operated to prevent environmental contamination. The Human Health Hazards of Former Dumps and Landfills (P-45017) fact sheet describes the public health hazards of former landfills.


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Last revised April 22, 2021