Thursday, January 11, 2018

Radium In Tap Water Of Half Of All Americans: Do You Even Know?

It's been bad enough learning about the ubiquity of lead in our drinking water and how more is added each year because of  antiquated lead pipes. (Another aspect of our crumbling infrastructure which includes bridges, sewer systems and airports.)    The lead pipe issue came to the fore in a 2016 WSJ piece ('Lead Pipes Vex Many Cities').. 

The piece noted that Flint alone "has no choice but to spend an estimated $55 million to replace all the lead pipes leading to homes".

But adding:

"Now, utility officials across the country are calculating the cost of getting rid of their lead water lines, a task that could take years, disrupt tens of millions of homes and businesses and require billions of dollars in spending".

The culprit? A cheapo chlorine derivative called chloramine used to disinfect city water supplies. The problem is the stuff also causes lead to leach out of aging pipes and pollute water supplies. Chloramines (one form of which is what was used to purify the water in Flint) are basically ammonia and chlorine compounds that are far more corrosive to lead pipes (which are all across the country) than chlorine. The bottom line, as the article also notes, is the EPA estimates there are "10 million lead service lines that link water mains in streets to buildings"

The American Water Works Association, which represents 4,000 water utilities, estimates the average cost for each replacement line at about $5,000 - for a total of $32. 5 billion (based on a lower limit of 6.5 million lines to replace).

This issue, make no mistake - is a man-made problem- that will take a lot of money to fix but in the end can be resolved.

But now we learn that a new source of water contamination is wholly natural:  radium.  Why important? Because it is a known carcinogen especially for bone cancer (osteosarcoma).   The report on CBS this a.m. noted the finding from the Environmental Working Group that 158 waster systems in 27 states have reported radium in concentrations that exceed the Federal legal limit, that is 5 pCi/ L. 

For those unfamiliar with radiological units, the pCi/L  denoted pico Curie per liter.  Given radium decays at a rate of about 2.2 trillion disintegrations per minute, a picocurie  represents 2.2 disintegrations per minute.. This is given that a picocurie is one trillionth of a curie..

What you really need to process here are the words from the EWG:

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 environment 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. EWG’s interactive map shows the utilities with radium contamination and how many people were affected.
Worse, Trump’s nominee (Kathleen Hartnett White) to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality,(CWQ) admitted a 2011 investigation by Houston’s KHOU-TV that if utility tests found radiation levels over the EPA limit, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would subtract the test’s margin of error to make it appear the water met federal standards. In some cases, this meant that Texans whose tap water posed the extraordinarily elevated lifetime cancer risk of 1 in 400 were not informed of the danger. . The TX city of Brady turns out to be the poster child for his mishandling of risk with tap water that exceeds the federal level of radium by 4.25 pCI/L.  As the CBS report noted no one in their right mind in this Texas city uses anything but bottled water.
These citizens have their heads screwed on straight since who wants to tempt fate ingesting this stuff,  risking bone cancer or unwanted mutations in a soon to be born child?  It also leaves open the question of what other Texas communities know, or don't. This is given the EWG report found more than 3,500 utilities in the state - serving 22 million (or 80 percent of the population) reported finding radium in tap water.
In Brady, TX, meanwhile, it's been found that radium levels in some wells is nine times higher than it should be.  The mayor,  Tony Groves,  admitted to CBS' correspondent Anna Warner this morning the city faces a tough problem: how to get enough money to build a new water treatment plant.  This will cost in excess of $20 million. It's a sure bet here - knowing Texas and its conservative legislature - the good citizens of Brady will be told to suck salt. There is no way they will process the cost-to benefit for 5,500 residents as being in favor of even offering loan money.
Let us also note the EWG operates outside the domain of the corrupt Trump EPA and its toadies. Thus, it has done its own reporting and research - given the importance of water quality in our lives-- and manages its own website.  One of its mission is to enable Americans to use the EWG website to learn exactly what contaminants are present in their drinking water.  To facilitate that I have provided the EWG link below where you can simply punch in y9ur zip code to learn what's in you water:
At the bottom of the field you also have the option of putting in your email to get the guide to safe drinking water and protecting yourself. Don't count on the money grubbing Trump parasites to protect you! All they want is to protect their own wealth and line their pockets out of your misery and illness.
As noted by EWG's Alex Formuzis this morning on CBS, all of this is something the EPA ought to have done. He went on to say:
"The EPA and the Safe Drinking Water Act have largely failed the American people."
Indeed, and we've seen the failure of the latter Act especially after fracked water was listed as being acceptable. As a 2014 Denver Post report noted,  some 716,982 gallons of the petroleum chemicals spilled during the past decade have stayed in the ground after the initial cleanup. This has contaminated soil, sometimes spreading into groundwater. Recall that a House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010-11, report found that fourteen of the nation's most active hydraulic fracturing companies used 866 million gallons of chemical fracturing products, and more than 650 of the chemicals named in the report were known carcinogens, supposedly regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Among the toxic fracking chemicals and their adverse effects uncovered by the inquiry:

-Benzene: a powerful bone-marrow poison (aplastic anemia) associated with leukemia, breast and uterine cancer

- Styrene, which may cause eye and mucous membrane irritation, neurotoxic effects in the central and peripheral nervous systems.

- Toluene, which may cause muscular incoordination, tremors, hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo, emotional instability and delusions, liver and kidney damage, and anemia.

- Xylene, with cancer-causing (mainly in the kidneys, liver) and neurotoxic effects, as well as reproductive abnormalities.
But don't look for the Trump government to protect you or to even make available the medical care you will need once you get all the cancers from the contaminants - whether fracked chemicals, lead or radium-  in our water. Nope. It's all too expensive, and these glorified rats value their own wealth over your health.


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