A West Virginia biology professor recommends that residents worried that Marcellus shale drilling may contaminate their water should test it at their taps.
But local water quality officials said residents who test their own water won't know the difference between contaminants from Marcellus shale and other factors.
"Certainly, total dissolved solids is one of the parameters that can be affected by Marcellus shale wastewater," said Stanley States, director of water quality and production for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. "But just measuring for total dissolved solids is not going tell you anything about other parameters. It's not an absolute fingerprint."
Wheeling Jesuit University professor Ben Stout and a team of students said residents should be proactive in protecting themselves by taking three steps:
? Test water daily with a conductivity pen, which measures the ability of dissolved materials in the water to conduct electricity.
? Identify those materials, which can be done with a kit certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.
? Keep a detailed notebook, recording the daily results and observations about color, taste and odor.