Radium Contamination in Colorado Water
By: Alexandria Simpkins
Summary. Residents of Gleneagle Colorado were notified this year that their drinking water was 1.7 pci/L over the limit of radium allowed. The Donala Water and Salination company presides over this city’s water and has determined the cause of these higher than normal radium levels to be due to excessive water use and the rise in temperature. The Donala Water and Salination company also states the water is safe to drink however the health risks for pregnant and immunocompromised persons is high, and if consumed for 50 years or more it can obviously increase the risk of cancer. Residents are concerned about the district's communication and do not fully understand the statement made by the water company. In short, their conclusion says the ‘radium found in the drinking water is a result from radium deposits that naturally occur from the minerals commonly found in any water supply. The higher pulling rates of water from these wells is causing the higher levels of radium seen.’ The Donala Water and Salination company’s attitude towards this matter is calm and seemingly cocky in their efforts to target the source and solve it. They have devised a plan to test each individual well for excessive radium levels to see if a certain well is pulling from a pocket and to treat the water with a chemical that will attach to radionuclides and pull them out. They will also turn off whatever well is experiencing high radium concentrations and use the HMO process to further filter the water. The Donala Water and Salination company’s closing statement is that they are already conducting this plan and expect the problem to be fully fixed by 2023. In the meantime, 25% of Gleneagle’s water has been bought by the Donala Water and Salination company from Leadville, to help dilute the radium present.
Why we should care? I think we should care about this topic because nothing is more important than understanding the regulations in place to protect us from various contaminations, whether it be physically, mentally, or environmentally harmful.
I think this article is important because it really exposes how little we know about what is really in our water. While the set standards of what is and is not allowed in any product we use or consume is regulated, it's still very interesting to know what those standards are. While reading this article I kept making comparisons to the Flint Water Crisis and found it unbelievable the speed at which these plans were made (within a year) for Gleneagle’s contamination.
Science in Action.
Dr. Uloma Uche is an EWG Environmental Health Science Fellow.
Uloma Uche worked on a peer reviewed research study by the EWG that demonstrated that areas at high risk for cancer from polluted tap water, that also experience environmental injustice can be identified when water quality data, demographic data and community water systems maps are analyzed and compared. The study urges for water equitability by asking EPA to add drinking water to its environmental justice mapping tools as a metric. I find this research to be important to this article because the EWG's research gives direct instructions on how lawmakers can make drinking water safer, especially under the domain of public health policies. The research also highlights common carcinogens in our tap water that are regulated, one being radium. The research shows the mix of these toxins found in tap water has the potential to lead to 100,000 cancer cases. or more. The research done by EWG could prevent situations in Gleneagle from happening again, while also lowering our country's exposure to toxins present in our water.
There are so many contaminants in water, so many stories. It is really scary. Radium is one that I have not heard much about before. Well water from mountains was always thought to be pure in history, but of course all of the hazardous anthropogenic activities brought unprecedented dangers.
I think it is incredibly scary that a radioactive element can be found in the drinking water supply of a city. The fact that nobody has been severely punished or fined yet is also disheartening. We need to hold people who ruin communities and worsen poverty accountable for their reckless, life-taking actions.
Radium, PFAS, heavy metals, the list seems endless of novel chemicals found in unsafe concentrations in our water system. These contaminants violate our basic human rights. Lack of access to safe drinking water violates the UN definition of human rights.
I found this topic pretty worrying. While there are many standards and regulations in place to control what is in our water, instances like this should how often these benchmarks are not followed. Many water and chemical companies prioritize monetary gain over the environmental and human impacts that their products have.
This is really scary to think about! There are so many contaminants in our water supply that we don’t even think about. We will never know exactly what we are drinking and the effects that they may have on our bodies. Even water we think is completely safe, probably isn’t. Additionally, these contaminants may have horrible effects on our bodies in the future, which is even more worrying.
The district is not relaying the message correctly to the residence. People are scared and confused on what to do next because of the excess radium in the water. This article reminded me of the Flint water crisis here in Michigan. The community in Flint were unaware of what was going on, and their only source of drinking water came from the city.
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