Examining Common Water Contaminants: Radium

Examining Common Water Contaminants Radium

Examining Common Water Contaminants: Radium

Formed when uranium and thorium undergo radioactive decay, radium is a naturally occurring radioactive element found in the earth’s crust. As such, small amounts of radium can also be found in groundwater supplies.  In fact, deep bedrock aquifers used for drinking water can sometimes contain levels of radium that exceed regulatory standards.

Is Radium in Your Water?

Since radium cannot be seen, smelled or tasted in drinking water, it is possible to have water that is contaminated with radium without even realizing it. Therefore, in order to ensure your water does not contain radium, it must be tested specifically for the contaminant. While all public water supplies are tested regularly for radium, the same is not true for well water unless you make the effort to have your water tested.

What are the Dangers of Radium in Drinking Water?

When water contaminated with radium is used for drinking or cooking, a small portion of the radium is absorbed from the digestive tract and distributed throughout the body. Some of this absorbed radium is then excreted in urine, but some is also deposited in the tissues of the body. This can cause damage to surrounding tissue, resulting in anemia, fractured teeth, cataracts and depression of the immune system. Exposure to high levels of radium can also increase the incidence of breast, bone and liver cancer.

Due to the side effects of ingesting radium, any exposure to it poses some degree of risk. Nonetheless, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a maximum contaminant level of 4 picoCuries per liter in public water supplies. Public water supplies with radium levels exceeding this amount are required to notify the public while also evaluating ways to reduce radium levels in the water.

If you want to get your water tested anywhere in the Magic Valley, contact Pump Service Idaho today. We will be happy to help ensure your water is free and clear of all contaminants!

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