Drinking water for more than 170 million Americans in all 50 states contains radioactive elements that may increase the risk of cancer, according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) investigation released Thursday. Radiation in tap water is a serious health threat, especially during pregnancy, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limits for the most widespread radioactive elements are more than 40 years old.
But President Trump’s nominee to be the White House environment czar rejects the need for water systems to comply even with those inadequate standards. The most common radioactive element in American tap water is radium. EWG’s analysis of test data from almost 50,000 public water systems found that from 2010 to 2015, more than 22,000 utilities in all 50 states reported radium in the treated water delivered to customers’ taps.
EWG’s interactive map shows the utilities with radium contamination and how many people were affected. Only a small percentage of those systems exceeded the EPA’s legal limits for radium, set in 1976. But almost all exceeded California state scientists’ public health goals for two separate radium isotopes, set in 2006, which are hundreds of times more stringent than the EPA’s standard for the two isotopes […]