Many people believe radioactive material only comes from nuclear power plants, submarines, etc., but in actuality, it has existed on the planet long before any of man’s creations — and once in a while it shows up in well water.

The detection of radioactive material in well water, though it sounds scary, does not always mean people ought not drink the water… as residents in Darlington County, South Carolina have recently found out.

DARLINGTON—The Darlington County Water and Sewer Authority has taken a well that supplies drinking water to some county residents out of service after tests by state health officials found levels of naturally occurring radioactive contaminants that exceeded the maximum level allowed by the state.

But officials with the agency say the water is still safe to drink.

Officials have taken the well with the highest level of contamination out of service, according to the notice. If authority officials are able to reduce the level of contaminants in that well, it may go back into service. If not, it will remain out of service, according to Jerry Stutts, operations manager for the water and sewer authority.

Water from the two remaining wells is being blended with water from two other water treatment plants to reduce the levels of contaminants, Stutts said.

Tests by DHEC at the end of December found levels of two radioactive materials, Radium 226 and Radium 228, that exceed the maximum contaminant level set by the state, according to Stutts. Both are naturally occurring elements in the earth, Stutts said. As ground water moves through underground aquifers, the two elements are absorbed in the water, the agency’s public notice to customers says.

The average level of the two elements found in the tests was 6.1 picocuries per liter. The maximum allowable level is 5.0 picocuries per liter, Stutts said.

A picocurie is a small amount of radioactivity associated with about one trillionth of a gram (a picogram) of radium, according to the notice to customers.

The notice to customers said there is no immediate risk from the contaminants but said that some people who drink water containing Radium 226 and Radium 228 in excess of the maximum contaminant level over many years may have an increased risk of cancer. (source )

The levels of radiation picked up in the testing sound pretty low, if you ask us, but we commend the health officials in Darlington County, South Carolina for taking prompt action and notifying residents of the situation.

Another Water (and Air) Invading Substance…

Radon gas in homes can wipe out whole families and the victims never even know the gas existed before it happens. Therefore, we suggest all home owners check for the presence of radon gas on the first floor and in basements a few times a year, with more frequent testing preferred.

Test Products: EPA Approved Radon Detector
EPA Approved Radon Detector

Test Products: Continuous Radon Monitor
Continuous Radon Monitor

Test Products: Radon in Air/Water Test Kit
Radon in Air/Water Test Kit