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Does EPA under-report radiation in drinking water?

KHOU-TV in Houston reports that the EPA has long minimized the levels of radiation in the nation’s drinking water and the danger it poses. Here’s what Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research told the station:

“Where I think the EPA was wrong was in neglecting some natural radioactive materials altogether,” said Dr. Arjun Makhijani, a physicist and former advisor to the EPA on radiation science.

Makhijani, a physicist and an engineer who has a PhD from Berkeley, has testified before Congress, and has served as an expert witness in Nuclear Regulatory Commission proceedings. He now runs the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

“I have told them that their drinking water notions are dating from science from 1959,” he said.

In this week’s paper, we wrote about the use of radioactive tracer isotopes in gas drilling, and the radioactive materials brought to the surface by the process of hydraulic fracturing, as well as the long history in this region of discharging radioactive waste into our waterways.

In related news, listen to what Walter Hang, of Ithaca’s Toxics Targeting, has to say to Democracy Now about the revelations in this week’s three-part New York Times series on the disposal of wastewater generated in hydraulic fracturing.


  • Bryan Elliott

    There is a ridiculous amount of radiation in most water – it’s called sunlight, cell phone signals, wifi, FM. Depending on the location of the water, a LOT of radiation can be passing through it at any time.

    But wait – we’re talking about /radioactive substances/, aren’t we? Specifically, we’re talking about Lead-210.

    Which, by the way, is limited in general in drinking water by regulations on lead content of water – quite strict. The natural levels of the stuff are in the realm of trace amounts (< 0.1%) – at which point, lead's chemical toxicity exceeds the radioactivity of this one of its component isotopes.