Radium Contamination Found in More Than 22,000 Drinking Water Systems

A new study suggests that more than half of Americans have traces of radium in their public drinking water systems

Study finds radon in public drinking water systems

A report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that more than 170 million Americans have radium in treated drinking water. Based on public water system data from 2010 to 2015, the report found more than 22,000 systems had traces of radium and 158 systems in 27 states had radium above the federal legal limit. EWG found that in Texas approximately 80% of the state’s population was being served by public water systems with traces of radium.

While radium occurs naturally, it is classified as a carcinogen and has been linked to cancer. “It has been associated with increases in bone cancer. So exposure to radium… even low levels, may increase the risk of cancer development,” said Alexi Temkin, a toxicologist with the EWG.

EWG argues that the federal standards for radium were set in 1976 and are outdated in light of current scientific understanding of the carcinogen. The group has made the data available to the public through a website where residents can search by zip code for access to radium concentration information.

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