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Radium-228

Status: No national drinking water standard exists

 

Radium is a radioactive element that causes bone cancer and other cancers. It can occur naturally in groundwater, and oil and gas extraction activities such as hydraulic fracturing can elevate concentrations. Read More.

Radium releases radioactive particles that harm health in many ways, causing tumors in bone, lungs and other organs; leukemia; and skin and blood damage. Water utilities typically report radium amounts in picocuries per liter (pCi/L), which is a measure of radioactivity in water. The two most common forms of radium are radium-226 and radium-228. They may be reported separately or together.

Federal law allows up to 5 picocuries per liter of combined radium-226 and radium-228 in tap water. Research by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that in some regions of the country, such as the mid-continental region and North Atlantic coastal region, more than 20 percent of sampled wells have radium in levels exceeding the federal drinking water limit. And the legal limit does not equate safety: The EPA estimates that one in every 10,000 people drinking water containing radium at this level would develop cancer over a lifetime.

California set a public health goal much lower than the federal limit - 0.019 picocuries per liter of radium-226 and 0.05 picocuries per liter of radium-228, concentrations that are lower than the detection limit for most water tests.

Click here to read more on radiological contaminants.

2010-2015:

FOUND
FOUND ABOVE HEALTH GUIDELINES

47

states detected

14,918

utilities detected

114 million

people served

47

states over health guideline

14,771

utilities over health guideline

113 million

people served over health guideline

Health concerns for radium-228

Cancer

State and national drinking water standards and health guidelines

Health Guideline 0.02 pCi/L

The health guideline of 0.02 pCi/L for radium-228 was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a public health goal, the level of a drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

pCi/L = picocuries per liter.

States reporting radium-228 in drinking water

UTILITIES REPORTING ABOVE HEALTH GUIDELINES UTILITIES WITH CONTAMINATION
State UtilitiesPeople Served UtilitiesPeople Served
Illinois1,41410,467,4711,41710,475,222
Massachusetts3787,912,2263928,180,501
California2688,056,2722688,056,272
Texas9307,683,1209307,683,120
Florida3596,929,1613596,929,161
New York6695,907,5706775,933,642
Michigan5575,045,6125635,052,899
Ohio3954,159,8803964,159,910
Colorado3803,844,5803833,845,539
Pennsylvania4663,436,1554693,443,152
Arizona1132,619,3391183,337,088
Alabama3233,198,0913233,198,091
Tennessee2093,179,8092093,179,809
Georgia2763,114,6812763,114,681
Maryland1042,770,0021042,770,002
Utah3432,766,9423452,767,617
Kentucky1702,473,8601702,473,860
Virginia5452,231,6555532,233,735
Nevada802,141,518822,141,698
Minnesota3982,023,8043992,024,474
New Mexico4141,687,7164481,789,177
New Jersey1571,750,6051571,750,605
North Carolina4551,593,7714551,593,771
Oklahoma5441,494,8235501,502,638
Iowa4871,350,4764871,350,476
Wisconsin721,341,067721,341,067
Kansas3381,308,4573381,308,457
Nebraska3921,183,1953921,183,195
Indiana421,082,919421,082,919
Washington3631,042,6403651,042,797
Connecticut1331,004,0621331,004,062
Idaho261991,9082691,000,001
Delaware191955,324200959,995
Arkansas219884,214219884,214
West Virginia284850,312291860,385
South Carolina147639,863147639,863
Missouri176592,224176592,224
Mississippi125469,642131563,488
New Hampshire359555,886359555,886
Maine268428,618271446,279
Wyoming215369,000226399,005
Louisiana83379,20583379,205
Vermont210304,949211306,601
Montana184227,015184227,015
Alaska153157,531157160,732
South Dakota104147,425104147,425
Rhode Island1866,5091866,509
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Utilities with the highest amounts of radium-228, 2010-2015

ALL UTILITIES
LARGE UTILITIES
UtilityLocationTestsAverage levelPeople served
Patterson Valley Water CompanyRocky Ford, CO2 of 214.00 pCi/L120
Council Creek VillageAustin, TX18 of 1813.52 pCi/L330
Rainbow Water CompanyPiedmont, SD2 of 213.35 pCi/L258
South Silver Creek I II & IIIAustin, TX14 of 1412.34 pCi/L249
Fayette Water CompanyManzanola, CO6 of 611.42 pCi/L75
Ranch Water Service Inc.Kingman, AZ20 of 2010.83 pCi/L135
Mountain Top WsWarm Springs, GA2 of 29.99 pCi/L117
Mineral PointMineral Point, MO19 of 199.03 pCi/L385
Valley Water CompanyManzanola, CO12 of 129.02 pCi/L270
City of Brady Water System*Brady, TX87 of 978.91 pCi/L5,500
South Council Creek 2Austin, TX1 of 18.80 pCi/L111
Country Acres Mobile Home Park (la Salle County)Des Plaines, IL2 of 28.65 pCi/L295
Vroman Water CompanyManzanola, CO6 of 68.40 pCi/L125
South Swink Water CompanyLa Junta, CO12 of 128.02 pCi/L600
Lakeland ServicesBrady, TX12 of 127.63 pCi/L58
Live Oak Hills SubdivisionLlano, TX23 of 237.61 pCi/L60
Eureka Water CompanySwink, CO6 of 67.08 pCi/L498
Hillside TpLa Junta, CO1 of 16.80 pCi/L30
Terra Cotta EstatesPiedmont, SD1 of 16.80 pCi/L75
RansomRansom, IL24 of 246.53 pCi/L483
Superior Water Company CpfGilbertsville, PA1 of 16.53 pCi/L500
Glendale SubdivisionThornburg, VA1 of 16.50 pCi/L42
Waukesha Water UtilityWaukesha, WI3 of 36.27 pCi/L70,718
Arrowhead Landing SubdivisionAtlanta, GA21 of 216.24 pCi/L55
Cws Peachtree AcresWest Columbia, SC2 of 26.15 pCi/L138
Farmington*Farmington, MO5 of 76.13 pCi/L16,318
BraidwoodBraidwood, IL7 of 76.06 pCi/L6,600
Dells View Water CompanyDewey, AZ3 of 45.95 pCi/L46
North Holbrook Water CompanyRocky Ford, CO6 of 65.93 pCi/L75
Royal Lodge Estates Homeowners AssociationMidland, GA3 of 35.92 pCi/L55

* This water utility supplies finished drinking water to at least one other water utility. The purchasing utility is not required to test for or report Radium-228, but it likely has the contaminant in its water supply.

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UtilityLocationTestsAverage levelPeople served
Waukesha Water UtilityWaukesha, WI3 of 36.27 pCi/L70,718
Farmington*Farmington, MO5 of 76.13 pCi/L16,318
Clark Public Utilities*Vancouver, WA1 of 24.60 pCi/L82,071
Brookfield Water UtilityBrookfield, WI1 of 14.40 pCi/L29,070
Virginia-American Water Company*Alexandria, VA1 of 13.90 pCi/L28,000
AndoverAndover, MN27 of 303.64 pCi/L19,310
North MankatoNorth Mankato, MN13 of 133.52 pCi/L13,462
WinonaWinona, MN5 of 53.36 pCi/L27,782
Dekalb-Jackson Water Supply DistrictIder, AL1 of 13.20 pCi/L14,937
Reading Area Water Authority*Reading, PA1 of 13.20 pCi/L87,000
Milan Water DepartmentMilan, TN2 of 22.90 pCi/L10,289
Sussex Village Hall & Water UtilitySussex, WI3 of 32.87 pCi/L10,573
London Utility Commission*London, KY1 of 12.80 pCi/L10,604
Fond Du Lac WaterworksFond Du Lac, WI10 of 112.75 pCi/L42,000
Claremore*Claremore, OK1 of 12.64 pCi/L15,873
Jackson Water SystemJackson, TN4 of 42.64 pCi/L92,506
Knox-Chapman Utility District*Knoxville, TN1 of 12.60 pCi/L32,974
Hoffman EstatesHoffman Estates, IL5 of 82.54 pCi/L52,520
City of Yuba CityYuba City, CA1 of 12.52 pCi/L65,372
Moorestown Water DepartmentMorrestown, NJ5 of 62.51 pCi/L19,000
Defiance City*Defiance, OH1 of 12.50 pCi/L16,494
Oxford City PWSOxford, OH1 of 12.50 pCi/L22,500
Western Water Company*Goshen, OH1 of 12.48 pCi/L40,651
Moore County Public Util. - Pinehurst*Carthage, NC25 of 292.36 pCi/L19,368
Marlborough DPW Water Div.Marlborough, MA1 of 12.34 pCi/L38,000
Willingboro MUA*Willingboro, NJ7 of 72.34 pCi/L35,000
Selmer Water System*Selmer, TN3 of 32.32 pCi/L18,905
Artesian Water Company*Newark, DE286 of 3112.31 pCi/L301,000
Henrico County Water System*Henrico, VA1 of 12.30 pCi/L292,000
Paducah Water Works*Paducah, KY1 of 12.30 pCi/L64,013

* This water utility supplies finished drinking water to at least one other water utility. The purchasing utility is not required to test for or report Radium-228, but it likely has the contaminant in its water supply.

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