Drinking water for more than 170 million Americans in all 50 states contains radioactive elements that may increase the risk of cancer, according to an EWG investigation released today.
Radiation in tap water is a serious health threat, especially during pregnancy, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limits for the most widespread radioactive elements are more than 40 years old. But President Trump’s nominee to be the White House environmental czar rejects the need for water systems to comply even with those inadequate standards.
The most common radioactive element in American tap water is radium. EWG’s analysis of test data from almost 50,000 public water systems found that from 2010 to 2015, more than 22,000 utilities in all 50 states reported radium in the treated water delivered to customers’ taps.
Only a small percentage of those systems exceeded the EPA’s legal limits for radium, set in 1976. But 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.
“Most radioactive elements in tap water come from natural sources, but that doesn’t take away the need to protect people through stronger standards and better water treatment,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG’s senior science advisor for children’s environmental health. “Millions of Americans are drinking water with potentially harmful levels of radioactive elements, but the outdated federal standards mean many people don’t know about the risk they face when they turn on the tap.”
California has the most residents affected by radiation in drinking water. From 2010 to 2015, about 64% of the state’s residents were served by public water systems that reported detectable levels of the two radium isotopes. In Texas, which has a smaller population, about 80% of the population was served by utilities reporting detectable levels of those elements.
But while President Trump’s nominee to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, or CEQ, was Texas’s top environmental regulator, the state regularly and deliberately lowered the levels of radiation in tap water it reported to the EPA.
I have written several blogs about tap water quality. Radium is one of the contaminants that is reported, even though the reporting levels are woefully inadequate, as noted above. There are over 160 water contaminants currently found in all our fresh water that are not measured or reported.
Look for the EPA regulations to be reduced rather than tightened under this administration. That is the trend and, I believe, the motivation behind nominating Kathleen Hartnett White to the position of CEQ.
If I haven’t convinced you previously, this report should compel you to stop drinking tap water.
The Bottom Line:
Go online and purchase a small water distiller. They are now under $100 and produce a gallon of clean water in three hours. I typically make two gallons per day, but can easily make four gallons if needed. The units last a couple of years and come with a one year warrantee.
Source: January 11, 2018 Environmental Working Group