Cancer-causing radon found in east Alabama town’s well water, researcher says

Ming-Kuo Lee, a hydrology professor from Auburn, told a crowd of about 150 area residents Tuesday night that four of 13 groundwater wells sampled in that area showed levels of radon in excess of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommendations for drinking water.
The EPA says that radon exposure can cause cancers to develop in the lungs if inhaled or internal organs if consumed in drinking water.
Lee said the municipal water tested within EPA safety thresholds for heavy metals, trace elements, volatile organic compounds and other substances of concern.
"The recommendation we made is that, if financially possible, [Fruithurst residents] should switch to the safe, city municipal water as soon as possible."
Radon is usually a gas, but can be present in drinking water taken directly from underground sources, according to an EPA fact sheet.
Other substances found In addition to the radon, researchers found a number of other chemicals of concern in groundwater and soil samples from the area, including heavy metals and volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds.
A ProBlend rubber production facility operated in Fruithurst from 1987 until 2015.
Testing continues Christy Hiett, principal of Fruithurst Elementary School, said she began organizing the testing after four boys under the age of 18 were diagnosed with leukemia in the span of two years.
The group has also purchased reverse-osmosis water filtration systems for households that are unable to connect to the municipal water system.
"We need to get more soil samples near the facility to find the level of distribution for both heavy metals and some organic compounds."

West Milford finds fix for school’s radioactive water

West Milford finds fix for school’s radioactive water.
WEST MILFORD – A custom water filtration system is coming to Upper Greenwood Lake Elementary School, where elevated levels of radioactive particles have contaminated the water supply.
Quarterly test results reported to the state since last summer show uranium and radium levels in the school’s well water have been below the federal maximum permitted for drinking water.
The school, which is on the town’s northwest plateau on Henry Road, has been reliant on bottled water since early October 2016 and will be for the foreseeable future, officials said.
High levels of naturally occurring uranium in drinking water are more likely in the Highlands than other parts of the state due to the region’s geology, according to DEP records.
Radium and radon, other naturally occurring radionuclides formed from decaying uranium, can also be found in the area, records show.
The contractor, Equity Environmental Engineering, is also working on a project to abate radiation contamination in neighboring Vernon, said district Business Administrator Barbara Francisco.
“They’re very much aware of the problems because they are involved in a similar situation in Vernon,” she said.
New Jersey was the first state to start using the radium-224 testing method for radioactive particles in drinking water 20 years ago.
Radioactivity in drinking water is not a modern occurrence, but testing standards were not created by the EPA until 1977.

Trump proposed EPA cuts could add up for state

Trump proposed EPA cuts could add up for state.
Under the president’s proposed budget, the North Dakota Department of Health Environmental Health Section would lose all federal funding for at least seven of the national regulatory programs it administers.
The Environmental Health Section received more than $27 million in EPA funding last biennium and, before the president’s budget announcement, was expecting $26.7 million this coming biennium.
The department had expected to receive $8.4 million for these programs in the next biennium.
Glatt said elimination or shrinking of some programs won’t greatly affect the state but things like clean air and clean water funding very well could.
The radon program for air quality also would be eliminated, along with $8.05 million in associated grants.
Glatt said the state only gets a small grant on radon regulation, so this is one elimination that will have a small impact.
Wetlands Program Development grants are another the state could live without, but the programs’ $4.42 million reduction would mean less money passed on by the state to universities for the research that shapes state program implementation.
About $21 million in multipurpose grants will be eliminated, though the state was not expecting to receive anything from this one-time funding program in FY 2017.
The Nonpoint Source Section 319 grant program was eliminated.