WKYT Investigates: Arsenic, lead found in drinking water in Eastern Kentucky

Jennifer Justice and her mom Juanita Toppins cook with and bathe using well water.

"When we first moved here it was in '66. Clearest, purest water you've ever seen and it's lasted that way for a long time," explained Toppins, dumping out orange water from her water filter, "it's actually not very good for bathing or washing your hair."

Many families in Eastern Kentucky are like Toppins' - concerned about the quality of water that they're drinking. Close to 200 of them turned in samples to scientists at Eastern Kentucky University to get their water tested.

"It was what people reported they were drinking," noted Dr. Jason Marion, "14 percent of the samples that we collected had levels of manganese, arsenic, or lead at levels that were unsafe for human health."

Manganese poisoning is linked to mental disorders and impaired motor skills. Arsenic is a known carcinogen. And lead is a highly poisonous metal.

"You should have your water tested to know what you're actually drinking. That is the first then the best step that you could take," EKU graduate student Amber Kittoe told WKYT. Kittoe worked on finding arsenic levels for the university's study.

Toppins has never had her water professionally tested, but does wonder if what they're drinking is the cause of their health problems.

"We all have stomach problems. Everybody in the family, and my father who passed away a few years ago had a lot of stomach problems a lot."

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