News Feature | January 16, 2018

Study: Radium Rampant In Texas Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

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Texas has a problem with radium contamination in its drinking water, according to a new study from researchers at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG).

“When Dennis Taylor moved with his wife and two kids back to her hometown of Brady, TX, he quickly found out many there don't drink the city water,” CBS News reported.

"I think I tried to drink out of the tap water and it was like, woah woah woah, no we don't drink out of the tap water," Taylor said.

Taylor learned that the radium levels in city drinking water violated U.S. EPA standards.

“Radium and radon are potent human carcinogens. Radium, via oral exposure, is known to cause lung, bone, head (mastoid air cells), and nasal passage tumors. Radon, via inhalation exposure, causes lung cancer,” per an EPA fact sheet.

EWG collected data from water utilities around the country over a five-year period ending in 2015.

“Radium was found in all 50 states — and the group found 158 public water systems in 27 states reported radium in amounts that exceeded the federal legal limit,” CBS News reported.

“The state with the most widespread contamination, according to EWG, is Texas, where more than 3,500 utilities serving more than 22 million people — about 80 percent of the state's population reported finding radium,” the report said.

EWG noted that, overall, the number of water systems to exceed federal limits was small. But that does not mean risks presented by radium are low.

“Almost all exceeded California state scientists’ public health goals for two separate radium isotopes, set in 2006, which are hundreds of times more stringent than the EPA’s standard for the two isotopes combined. The elevated risk of cancer, as well as potential harm to fetal growth and brain development, decreases with lower doses of radiation but does not go away,” the report said.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: "water faucet," karen nador © 2002, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/