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National Drinking Water Database
Barium (total) in Colorado
Barium is a mineral that enters drinking water through drilling and mining waste runoff, discharges from chemical industries and erosion of natural deposits. [read more]
Barium is an element that occurs naturally in ore and makes up 0.05 percent of the earth's crust (WHO 2004a). Industrially, barium is used in oil and gas drilling, and by the glass, rubber, photographic and chemical industries. Barium is also used in automotive paints, plastic stabilizers and case hardening steels, in addition to being used to refine sugar and vegetable oil. The manufacture of bricks and tiles, lubricating oils and jet fuel, paints and dyes, and various pesticides also utilizes barium (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) 1992b, 2007a).
Short-term exposure to barium-contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal disturbances and muscular weakness, and long-term exposure can cause high blood pressure (ATSDR 2007a; USEPA 2002c). According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, barium has been shown to primarily affect the cardiovascular system, but evidence also indicates that exposure to barium will also affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal, hematological and musculoskeletal systems. Barium can also cause kidney, liver, and neurological damage and developmental and reproductive effects. Workers exposed to barium compounds exhibited scarring of the lungs (from inhalation of dust), respiratory weakness, paralysis and accumulation of fluid in the trachea. After short-term, high dose oral ingestion, people can develop increased blood pressure, changes in heart rhythms, heart, liver and kidney damage, numbness and tingling in mouth and neck, paralysis, brain congestion and excessive fluid in the brain (ATSDR) 1992b, 2007a).
Laboratory animals exposed to barium compounds develop lung inflammation, hypertension and heart rhythm changes such as rapid heart rate. Inhalation of barium carbonate dust causes reproductive effects in rats, such as abnormal sperm formation, shortened fertility cycles in females, and damage to the ovary and testes (ATSDR 1992b).
Barium and barium compounds have been found in at least 798 of the 1,684 National Priority List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (ATSDR 2007a). Barium water contamination is mostly due to the disposal of drilling wastes, from the smelting of copper, and from the manufacture of motor vehicle parts and accessories (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 2002c). In 2004, the U.S. EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reported that industrial facilities released 8,939,172 pounds of barium into U.S. air, water, and land during 2002 (USEPA 2004a).
The Most Polluted Communities in Colorado
1 water utilities reported detecting Barium (total) in tap water since 2004, according to EWG's analysis of water quality data supplied by state water agencies
Ranked by highest average Barium (total) level
|Rank||System||Population Served||Positive test results of total reported tests||Average Level|
|1||City of Englewood|
|29,500||1 of 1||46 ppb|
Health Based Limits for Barium (total)
|Children's health-based limit for 1-day exposure||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects for up to one day of exposure. The One-Day health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is typically set to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||700 ppb|
|Children's health-based limit for 10-day exposure||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic effects for up to ten days of exposure. The Ten-Day health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is typically set to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||700 ppb|
|EPA Human Health Water Quality Criteria||Water quality criteria set by the US EPA provide guidance for states and tribes authorized to establish water quality standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to protect human health. These are non-enforceable standards based upon exposure by both drinking water and the contribution of water contamination to other consumed foods. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||1000 ppb|
|Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL)||The enforceable standard which defines the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to health-based limits (Maximum Contaminant Level Goals, or MCLGs) as feasible using the best available analytical and treatment technologies and taking cost into consideration. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||2000 ppb|
|Maximum Contaminant Limit Goal (MCLG)||A non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||2000 ppb|
|California Public Health Goals||Defined by the State of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) as the level of contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. For acutely toxic substances, levels are set at which scientific evidence indicates that no known or anticipated adverse effects on health will occur, plus an adequate margin-of safety. PHGs for carcinogens or other substances which can cause chronic disease shall be based solely on health effects without regard to cost impacts and shall be set at levels which OEHHA has determined do not pose any significant risk to health.||2000 ppb|
|Drinking Water Equivalent Level||A lifetime exposure concentration protective of adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects, that assumes all of the exposure to a contaminant is from drinking water. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||7000 ppb|
Violation Summary for Barium (total) in Colorado
Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes the following violations of federal standards in Colorado since 2004
|Violation Type||Number of Violations|
|Failure to monitor regularly||177|