Carolina residents worry about proposal to treat radium in groundwater
August 8, 2003
Ralph Rodgers is
considering whether to install filters to block radium in his drinking
water. He is one of dozens of Lexington County well users signing up for
The best solution for Mr. Rodgers would be hooking up to drinking water
from Lexington, three miles to the east. But the city isn't extending
water lines in that direction yet.
State officials say the health hazards are low. Drinking water containing
the maximum amount of radium considered safe is the equivalent of a yearly
chest X-ray, officials said. An increased risk of bone cancer comes from
drinking two liters of that water daily for 70 years.
"Some people feel comfortable with this risk while others don't,
said Michael Moore, a water analyst at the Department of Health and Environmental
DHEC recommended checks after finding traces of the naturally occurring
radioactive element in wells. Radium cannot be seen, smelled or tasted.
Lexington County, is in the middle of a geologic belt from Aiken to the
Charlotte, N.C., suburbs where radium appears, officials said.
Tests of 20 wells across the county found some wells had radium levels
slightly above the maximum safety standard.
Officials don't know how many wells are in Lexington County.