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Nursing student launches health campaign focusing on drinking water awareness

water in glass

A University of Southern Maine (USM) School of Nursing student has launched an awareness campaign focused on the chemical properties of arsenic and its ability to contaminate Maine’s drinking water wells.

Brent Kraushaar, a senior in USM’s Accelerated Nursing program, has produced a 15-minute webcast highlighting the dangers of arsenic, which he says is considered the world’s most significant chemical drinking water contaminant.

The odorless, tasteless element is known to cause several cancers — including of the skin, bladder and lungs — and has been found in dangerous levels in the groundwater in several regions of the state. Some of Maine’s water wells, he told the Fiddlehead Focus, tested at over 50 times higher than the maximum “safe” concentration of of 10 micrograms per litre (mcg/L).

“My personal project this semester focuses on providing public education regarding arsenic contamination in private drinking water wells, and about new state money available to help financially disadvantaged Mainers treat/test their water,” he told the publication.

Kraushaar represents the nursing program’s L/A Community CARE Partnership, a community group in the nursing school that focuses on public outreach regarding cancer prevention.

The partnership, one of many within USM’s School of Nursing, partners students with professionals, members and organizations of Maine communities to share and teach cancer prevention strategies and awareness in a variety of settings with the overarching goal of promoting health and wellness.

Students may work in middle schools, high schools and on college campuses; in senior centers; within workplaces and in recreational settings.

Because arsenic is a public health concern, the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends testing for arsenic at least every five years.

“Following recent state legislation, money is now available to help you clean and test your drinking water. Protect yourself and your family,” Kraushaar said.

Watch Kraushaar’s presentation, “Arsenic in Public Drinking Water Wells: What You Should Know,” below, and call the Maine CDC public information line at (207) 287-4311 or visit the Maine CDC website for more information.