Pregnant? New Home in the Country? Please - test your well for nitrates.

“I have a daughter in her childbearing years,” Brender said. “If she were on a private well, I would tell her to have her well-water tested or drink bottled water.”

There's a powerful emotional reason for her to encourage you to test your well for nitrates. That quote is from an article from NBC News about a rash of birth defects in the Yakima area. The children affected have  anencephaly, a  condition in which they’re born missing parts of the brain or skull.

The CDC hasn't issued a reason for the sudden rash, or cluster as they phrase it, of birth defects, but they also admit that they haven't done the kind of intense in-person and in-place survey likely to find an obscure cause, something that might be as simple as they all purchased produce from the same farmer.

Yakima is a major growing area in Washington State, especially for fruits and vegetables while the regions to the East, the Palouse tend more towards grain and legumes. Still, they share a commonality - fertilizers and pesticides.

Research has shown that there are potential links between anencephaly and exposure to molds and to pesticides, Ashley-Koch said. Central Washington is a prime agricultural area that produces crops from apples and cherries to potatoes and wheat, which may require pesticides that contain nitrates.

So, if you are in a young family, planning on children and buying a home with a private well, please spend the $75 (or thereabouts - I haven't priced it recently) to get the well tested.

You never know - the money you spend to test your well for nitrates may end up being the best investment you've ever made for your children.