More than 170 million Americans drink tap water that contains the radioactive element radium. It’s a powerful carcinogen.
That’s over half the U.S. population.
Radium is linked to breast, liver, and especially bone cancer.
This sounds scary. But half the country obviously does not have bone cancer. So how dangerous can it really be?
Actually, extremely dangerous.
Even the Environmental Protection Agency admits that tens of thousands of Americans are likely getting cancer because of radium in their water.
The EPA says the lifetime cancer risk for drinking water with acceptable levels for radium is 70 cases per one million people. That means almost 23,000 Americans could get cancer because of radium in water.
But the actual number could be far higher.
That’s because the EPA bases its acceptable radium limit on data from more than 40 years ago. Many scientists say new studies show radium is far more dangerous than the EPA would have you believe.
The state of California has set its own radium standards. They are 60 times lower than the federal limit.
What’s more, 158 public water systems around the country have radium levels that are above even the lax EPA limit.
How to Tell If There’s Radium in Your Water
Radium is naturally found in soil and rock. From there it seeps into groundwater…and eventually into drinking water systems. No amount of exposure is considered risk free.
The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit public health organization. It has an interactive map that can show if radium is in your water.
By clicking on your city, you can find the water quality report for your area. If there is a section labeled “radiological contaminants,” click on it. It will tell you if your water utility has detectable levels of radium.
If your water comes from a private well, you’ll have to get your water tested to find out if radium is in it. You can find a certified lab here.
Two Ways to Remove Radium
Water softeners take out 90% of radium. Either salt or lime systems work well.
Reverse osmosis filter systems also get rid of it. Filters can be installed under your kitchen sink or connected to your refrigerator water dispenser. They cost about $200.
The highest level of protection is a full home purification system. It filters water before it enters your home. These systems cost $850 to about $2,600.
One note of caution…
Don’t rely on pitcher-type water filters that use carbon filtration. Carbon filters don’t remove radium.
The EPA is downplaying the risk of radium in drinking water. That’s why it’s up to you to protect yourself and your loved ones from this potent cancer-causing contaminant.
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