Well Explorer is platform designed by researchers at Penn that serves as a resource for community members to find hydraulic fracturing well sites near them and learn about the ingredients used at these sites. Well Explorer was created with the purpose of providing a place for people to find well sites near them that could be leaking potentially toxic chemicals into their water system. This platform allows you to search for wells near any location, see ingredients used at these wells, and explore what genes, proteins, and hormonal pathways these ingredients affect. This is an useful, free resource to learn more about wells in your community.
The Community Engagement Core has created a four-part video series on the Well Explorer app. These videos explain how to download the app and walk you through the varies functions of the app. Please see our YouTube playlist to view these videos.
How to Download:
Well Explorer is available on the web and as an app. The Well Explorer app is available to download for free in the Apple Store. At this time, the Well Explorer app is only available on Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). The developers are currently working to make this app available on Android products as well.
Please see our Well Explorer: Introduction video for a tutorial on how to download the app on an iPhone.
What can you do with this app?
The app has three main tools: the Zip Searcher, Ingredient Explorer, and the Map Explorer.
Zip Searcher allows you to find wells near any location. On the website or on the app, you can enter an address, zip code, or city name and generate a list of wells closest to that location. On the app, you can also use your exact location, if you chose to allow your location to be shared with the app.
Also, you can customize your search by number of wells, well name, gene name, ingredients, and pathways. You can also chose to only include toxic wells in your search. These settings will filter your results to include wells that are most important to you.
Please see our Well Explorer: Zip Searcher video for a tutorial of this tool.
Ingredient Explorer function allows you to search for specific ingredients that are of interest to you, and view detailed toxin and biological information about the ingredient. You can search for an ingredient by name or CAS number, which is a unique number for each chemical.
You can also filter by pathways affected, including general hormone, estrogen, and/or testosterone. You are given the options to filter chemicals thorough affected general hormones, estrogen, and/or testosterone. You can also filter ingredients by whether they are toxic or a food additive. Finally, you can decide how to order your results, which can be done by name, CAS number or toxicity.
Please see our Well Explorer: Ingredient Explorer video for a tutorial of this tool.
Map Explorer allows you to view the location of wells across the United States. Similar to the Zip Searcher function, you can view wells centered about a specific location. However, unlike Zip Searcher, in Map Explorer you do not have to center your search around a specific location. Map Explorer allows you to search for wells based only on their ingredients, affected genes, and pathways affected. In this tool you can also search for wells based on their operator.
Please see our Well Explorer: Map Explorer video for a tutorial of this tool.
Commonly asked questions:
Why aren’t there ingredients listed for some wells?
It is possible that you will come across a well through Zip Searcher or Map Explorer that does not have any ingredients listed or only has fresh water listed as an ingredient. This does not mean that the well does not use any ingredients or is inactive. Ingredients are self-reported by the companies and the companies are not required to report their ingredients. Due to this some wells will not have ingredients listed.
It is also important to note that the ingredients listed on the well page are all the ingredients that have ever been used at that particular well. This means that the ingredients are not necessarily being used currently, but have in been used in the past. Also, this tool does not show the quantity of the ingredient used.
I live close to a well that uses toxic ingredients. What can I do?
If you discover through the Zip Searcher tool that you live in close proximity to a well that uses toxic ingredients, do not panic. There are a number of steps that you can take to ensure the safety of you and your family. First, assess how you get your drinking water. If you use water through a private well, then the next step is to get your water tested. You can use the ingredients from the ingredient list on the well page you are concerned about as a starting point for what to test your water for.
If your water test results come back positive for these ingredients, reach out to your regional Department of Environmental Protection office, or us here at the Community Engagement Core, and we will help connect you to resources to help.