170 Million Americans Are Drinking Radioactive Water

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An alarming new study has revealed that over half of the drinking water in the US is radioactive.

The investigation has revealed that over 170 million Americans are drinking water that contains radioactive elements that may increase the risk of cancer.

Carried out by The Environmental Working Group (EWG), the research discovered that in all 50 states radioactive water was present and in 27 of these it was found to exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) legal limits.

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Analysing almost 50,000 public water systems, radium was the most common radioactive element the EWG discovered.

This element enters groundwater through natural deposits in the Earth’s crust which means it is more common in water where activities such as oil gas drilling occur.

When radium enters water it releases ions in a process known as ionising with the resulting radiation being categorised as carcinogenic by the EPA.

Safe levels are then set by the agency and enforced all across America.

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Unfortunately it appears that not only are the guidelines sometimes ignored, but they aren’t as stringent as they could be.

Back in 2016 California state scientists set guidelines that were hundreds of times stricter in response to the higher risk of cancer that radiation poses.

If America followed these standards the result would be that only one case of cancer per one million people was due to the water supply.

The current levels allow for an astonishing 70 cases per one million people.

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In a statement the EWG said:

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 environment czar rejects the need for water systems to comply even with those inadequate standards.

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.

California has the most residents affected by radiation in drinking water. From 2010 to 2015, about 64 per cent 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 per cent of the population was served by utilities reporting detectable levels of those elements.

To see what the radiation levels are like in the water of your state, EWG have created a handy interactive map to help you.


Emily Murray

Emily Murray

Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn't writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.