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EWG's Tap Water Database — 2019 UPDATE

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Radium, combined (-226 & -228)

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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.

 

103

Samples

0

Samples exceeding legal limit (MCL)

36

Samples exceeding
health guidelines

Testing results - average by year

 
YearAverage resultSamples takenDetectionsRange of results
20120.55 pCi/L129ND - 1.84 pCi/L
20130.50 pCi/L2612ND - 1.93 pCi/L
20140.69 pCi/L83ND - 2.30 pCi/L
20150.28 pCi/L153ND - 1.86 pCi/L
20160.06 pCi/L171ND - 1.04 pCi/L
20170.44 pCi/L258ND - 2.27 pCi/L

pCi/L = picocuries per liter

State and national drinking water standards and health guidelines

EWG Health Guideline 0.05 pCi/L

EWG applied the health guideline of 0.05 pCi/L, defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a public health goal for radium-226, to radium-226 and radium-228 combined. This health guideline protects against cancer.

EPA Maximum Contaminant
Level (MCL) 5 pCi/L

The legal limit for combined radium-226 and radium-228, established in 1976, was based on costs for radium removal, as calculated at the time that the standard was set. This limit does not fully protect against the risk of cancer due to radium exposure.

pCi/L = picocuries per liter

All test results

Date Lab ID Result
2012-02-28R1205688ND
2012-04-10R12101080.55 pCi/L
2012-05-30R12156491.84 pCi/L
2012-06-13R12173480.07 pCi/L
2012-06-21R12185270.62 pCi/L
2012-06-25R12188620.20 pCi/L
2012-06-27R1219089ND
2012-07-17R12216550.76 pCi/L
2012-07-31R1223483ND
2012-07-31R12234860.97 pCi/L
2012-08-02R12237940.66 pCi/L
2012-10-30R12340170.91 pCi/L
2013-03-11R13103220.68 pCi/L
2013-03-11R13103281.16 pCi/L
2013-03-27R13130280.52 pCi/L
2013-05-13R1320333ND
2013-05-16R1321152ND
2013-05-16R13211601.34 pCi/L
2013-05-17R13213130.96 pCi/L
2013-05-17R1321317ND
2013-05-20R13215651.31 pCi/L
2013-05-20R1321569ND
2013-05-20R13215631.93 pCi/L
2013-06-05R13239101.69 pCi/L
2013-06-05R1323922ND
2013-06-05R1323915ND
2013-06-18R1326020ND
2013-07-09R13293320.68 pCi/L
2013-07-09R13293391.41 pCi/L
2013-07-09R1329343ND
2013-07-09R13293450.28 pCi/L
2013-07-09R1329584ND
2013-07-10R1329594ND
2013-07-11R1329815ND
2013-07-11R1329813ND
2013-07-23R13315661.14 pCi/L
2013-08-07R1333782ND
2013-08-09R1334240ND
2014-03-04R1407729ND
2014-03-04R14077172.30 pCi/L
2014-06-17R1422332ND
2014-06-17R1422329ND
2014-07-30R1429109ND
2014-08-05R14298681.90 pCi/L
2014-08-11R1430898ND
2014-08-19R14322821.30 pCi/L
2015-03-06R1508660ND
2015-03-09R1508866ND
2015-06-04R1521793ND
2015-06-04R1521780ND
2015-06-09R15225281.86 pCi/L
2015-06-15R1523191ND
2015-06-24R15253021.23 pCi/L
2015-06-24R1525297ND
2015-07-15R15286721.13 pCi/L
2015-07-15R1528670ND
2015-07-20R1529255ND
2015-07-22R1529744ND
2015-07-23R1530003ND
2015-07-24R1530229ND
2015-12-17R1554327ND
2016-06-23R1627648ND
2016-06-23R1627645ND
2016-06-23R1627650ND
2016-06-24R1627837ND
2016-06-27R1628121ND
2016-06-27R1628116ND
2016-06-27R1628114ND
2016-06-27R1628112ND
2016-06-28R1628438ND
2016-06-28R1628436ND
2016-06-29R1628652ND
2016-06-30R1628754ND
2016-07-06R16295841.04 pCi/L
2016-08-02R1634613ND
2016-08-02R1634615ND
2016-08-03R1634926ND
2016-10-03R1645232ND
2017-03-14R1710136ND
2017-03-14R1710139ND
2017-05-30R1722575ND
2017-05-30R1722578ND
2017-05-30R17225800.89 pCi/L
2017-05-31R17227541.97 pCi/L
2017-06-19R0726112ND
2017-06-190.88 pCi/L
2017-06-190.88 pCi/L
2017-06-21R1726780ND
2017-06-21R1726773ND
2017-06-22R1726961ND
2017-07-10R17298652.27 pCi/L
2017-07-11R1730136ND
2017-07-11R17301381.27 pCi/L
2017-07-17R1731305ND
2017-07-20R1732220ND
2017-07-20R17322161.57 pCi/L
2017-07-25R1732812ND
2017-08-03R1734566ND
2017-08-03R1734568ND
2017-09-26R1744548ND
2017-10-24R1749554ND
2017-11-15R1753298ND
2017-12-07R17568781.36 pCi/L