I am a grandmother writing to put our Legislature on notice that they must enact laws to require testing and remediation of wells that contain high levels of cancer-causing arsenic.

I was amazed to learn that over 150,000 Mainers are estimated to be exposed to arsenic levels well above the federal standards of 10 parts per billion.

Arsenic exposure is linked to lung, bladder and skin cancer, lowered IQ scores, death from respiratory diseases, diabetes and lowered sperm counts. In 2012, Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut had the highest incidence of bladder cancer in the U.S.

My grandchildren drink, shower in and consume water from a well tested to be safe, but thousands of Maine families haven’t tested their wells and have no idea what the consequences of arsenic contamination are. The consequences are preventable with funding for education and outreach on remediation options.

Last year, Gov. LePage vetoed legislation easily passed in bipartisan votes to improve testing and treatment of private drinking water wells. Our governor, along with other conservatives declared that the government has no useful role in protecting public health, and that people should be left alone to use the Yellow Pages to find private-sector solutions.

I strongly disagree. The government is obligated to protect the health and safety of all citizens and provide the means necessary to correct environmental threats when warranted. The federal Safe Drinking Water Act, enacted in 1974 and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, sets standards at which safe levels of drinking water must be maintained.

One out of eight private Maine wells has been proven to fall below safe levels. Our state government and elected officials must pass legislation in the next session to fund education and outreach for well testing and remediation. If the governor vetoes legislation again, ask him to drink water from an untested well.

Barbara DiBiase