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DOH-Marion encourages remaining private well owners in Lowell area to participate in free well-sampling

By Florida Department of Health in Marion County

December 19, 2018


OCALA, Fla.—The Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) is encouraging homeowners in north Marion County, in the Lowell area, to participate in the ongoing private-well sampling, which began in September. While a total of 90 private drinking water wells were identified for sampling, the department is awaiting permission to conduct sampling at 46 private residences in this community.  

In September, DOH-Marion was informed that a private drinking water well at the Florida State Fire College tested positive for PFOS and PFOA, two chemicals designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as “contaminants of emerging concern.” This sampling is part of ongoing assessment efforts to further evaluate the extent of any potential groundwater impacts in the area, inform area residents and restore water quality.

Working in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, DOH identified 90 wells for sampling, and so far, only four – including the fire college – have shown a level of PFOS and PFOA higher than the EPA-designated acceptable level. The other three include a private home, a private mining operation and a local fire station.

Prior to any sampling, DOH must receive permission to sample drinking water wells from private homes, businesses and institutions. After identifying which private wells should be sampled, DOH-Marion began contacting well owners through in-person visits and doorhangers for residents and owners who were not available at the time. To date, 40 samples have been collected.

“Although we have made significant efforts to notify well-owners by going door-to-door in this community, we have not received the response we were hoping for, and we are amplifying efforts to encourage the remaining private well-owners to participate in this effort,” said DOH-Marion Administrator Mark Lander. “It is important that we gather all available information to better understand these chemicals, which are no longer manufactured in the United States but still found in the environment. This issue is not widespread and poses no risk to the greater Ocala population’s water supply. Although it is not yet known what caused the contamination, we continue to take decisive action to protect Floridians. We are continuing to test private wells out of an abundance of caution and increasing our continued outreach efforts.”

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) are part of a group of chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). These are a family of man-made compounds. In the past, these chemicals served to make products resist stains, grease, and water. They were used in many common products, such as, carpet, clothing and other fabrics, non-stick cookware and other consumer goods, and some firefighting foams.

If you live in this community and have a private drinking water well you would like sampled, please contact DOH-Marion at 352-644-2623.

Click here for a timeline of sampling activities.

Click here for more information on PFOS and PFOA and potential health effects.