Radium in community water systems

For Minnesota's community water systems:

What is radium how does it get in water?

Radium is a type of radionuclide (radioactive material). Radionuclides from naturally occurring sources, like rocks and soil, can get into groundwater and surface waters in Minnesota. Radium and other radionuclides can be found in small amounts in Minnesota's groundwater. In general, surface water does not contain radionuclides at levels of concern.

Health effects of radium

Different doses of radiation cause different health effects. Drinking water that has radium in it would put you in contact with very low doses of radiation every day. You have a higher risk of getting cancer if you drink water with radium in it every day for many years.

Standard for radium in community water systems

All community water systems test for radium and ensure levels meet the Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standard, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). Radium and other levels of radioactivity in water are measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of water. The MCL for radium is 5 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).

Most community water systems provide drinking with radium below the standard

Very few community water systems provide drinking water with levels of radium above the federal drinking water standard. Read the most recent Drinking Water Protection Annual Report  for more information.
MDH studies found that the highest levels of radionuclides (radium and other radioactive materials) in source water occur in the Mount Simon-Hinckley and Jordan Aquifers in southeastern Minnesota. Treatment is required in communities with source water radionuclides levels greater than 5 pCi/L.


  

Mean radium levels in Minnesota community water systems

 
The federal Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for radium is 5 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).
 
The federal Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for radium is 5 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).

Maximum radium levels of Minnesota Community Water Systems

 
The federal Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for radium is 5 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).
 
The federal Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for radium is 5 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).

Most drink water with radium below the MCL

Population served by Community Water System mean radium concentration, 2017

Radium level Number of Systems Population Served Percent
0 - 3 869 3,715,721 84.4%
3+ - 5 74 597,739 13.6%
5+ - 10 15 87,794 2.0%
10+ 0 0 0.0%

What can be done about radium in drinking water?

All community water systems test for radium and ensure levels meet the EPA standard. If a system's radium level exceeds the EPA standard, the system notifies customers and makes changes to reduce the level. Sometimes a system can find a new drinking water source. It may also blend water from more than one source so that drinking water has a level of radium that meets the standard.
You can find the level of radium your community water system detected by reading their Water Quality Report (also known as a Consumer Confidence Report [CCR]). Call your community water system to get a copy of your CCR, or find it online at Search for Your Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) .
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Related resources:

Radium in drinking water

Radionuclides Rule: EPA Drinking Water requirements for states and public water systems