Health Indicator Report of Drinking Water: Radium
People drink and use water every day. The majority of Americans are provided with high quality drinking water. About 90% of people in the U.S. get their water from a community water system versus a smaller water supply such as a household well. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets regulations for treating and monitoring drinking water delivered by community water systems. Currently, there are water quality standards and monitoring requirements for over 90 contaminants. Drinking water protection programs play a critical role in ensuring high quality drinking water and in protecting the public's health. Because people drink and use water every day, contaminants in drinking water have the potential to affect many people. The number of people served by a community water system varies from as low as 25 to hundreds of thousands. Community water systems in the U.S. provide among the highest quality drinking water in the world. However, some contaminants are present at low levels, and it is still possible that drinking water can become contaminated at higher levels. If a person is exposed to a high enough level of a contaminant, they may become ill. Radium is a naturally occurring silvery-white radioactive metal that can exist in several forms called isotopes. Radium is produced constantly by the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium. Uranium and thorium are found in small amounts in most rocks and soil. Some of the radiation from radium is being released constantly into the environment. It is this radioactive decay that causes concern about the safety of radium and all other radioactive substances. Two of the main radium isotopes found in the environment are radium-226 and radium-228. The decay of radium-226 results in the formation of radon which exists as a gas and is mobile in environmental media. Radium has been used as a radiation source for treating cancer, radiography of metals, and combined with other metals as a neutron source for research and radiation instrument calibration. Before the 1960s, radium was a component of the luminous paints used for watch and clock dials, instrument panels in airplanes, military instruments, and compasses (ATSDR, 2010). (Modified from the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network [NEPHTN] Nationally Consistent Data and Measures [NCDM] radium document, version 8). Everyone is exposed to low levels of radium in the air, water, and food. Higher levels may be found in the air near industries that burn coal or other fuels or near sites that mine or mill uranium. It also may be found at higher levels in drinking water from groundwater wells. (From the NEPHTN NCDM radium document, version 8).
Data SourceUtah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water, Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS)
Data Interpretation IssuesPopulation data for each community water system are estimates based on number of connections. These calculations include all available data which varies by year and water system. Data reported to other sources, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), may differ slightly. A community water system is a public water system which serves at least 15 service connections used by year-round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents. This data does not include information about private water sources such as well water or tribal water systems. Private wells may be another source of population exposure to combined Radium-226 and -228. Transient non-community water systems, which are regulated by EPA, may also be an important source of combined Radium-226 and -228 exposure. Measures do not account for the variability in sampling, numbers of sampling repeats, and variability within systems. Concentrations in drinking water cannot be directly converted to exposure because water consumption varies by climate, level of physical activity, and between people. Due to errors in estimating populations, the measures may overestimate or underestimate the number of affected people. (From the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network [NEPHTN] Nationally Consistent Data and Measures [NCDM] radium document, version 8) The required monitoring frequency for combined Radium-226 and -228 is infrequent and may be as intermittent as every nine years; therefore Utah has very little data on this contaminant. Ground water systems may have multiple wells with different combined Radium-226 and -228 concentrations that serve different parts of the population. Compliance samples are taken at each entry point to the distribution system. In systems with separate wells serving some branches or sections of the distribution system, the system mean would tend to underestimate the combined Radium-226 and -228 concentrations of people served by wells with higher combined Radium-226 and -228 concentrations. Exposure may be higher or lower than estimated if data from multiple entry points for water with different combined Radium-226 and -228 levels are averaged to estimate levels for the CWS. (From the NEPHTN NCDM radium document, version 8)
Definition__Mean Radium Levels for Utah__ [[br]] 1) Yearly distribution of number of community water systems (CWS) by mean radium concentration [[br]] 2) Yearly distribution of number of people served by CWS by mean radium concentration __Maximum Radium Levels for Utah__ [[br]] 3) Yearly distribution of number of CWS by maximum radium concentration [[br]] 4) Yearly distribution of number of people served by CWS by maximum radium concentration
Numerator1) Count of community water systems categorized by mean radium concentration for each year reported (cut-points: <=5, >5 pCi/L radium, Not Detected) 2) Number of people served by community water systems categorized by mean radium concentration for each year reported (cut-points: <=5, >5 pCi/L radium, Not Detected) 3) Count of community water systems categorized by maximum radium concentration for each year reported (cut-points: <=5, >5 pCi/L radium, Not Detected) 4) Number of people served by community water systems categorized by maximum radium concentration for each year reported (cut-points: <=5, >5 pCi/L radium, Not Detected)
DenominatorNot applicable, there are no rates in this indicator.
Page Content Updated On 09/19/2019, Published on 11/13/2019