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Radiation Could Be Contaminating Vermonters’ Well Water. Test Today. via Burlington Free Press

Chemicals like arsenic and lead are known for their potential harm when in our drinking water, but there’s another contaminant we need to watch out for: radiation.

Radiation can affect your health, which is why you should have your well water tested.

“The natural radioactive elements uranium and thorium have been present since Earth was formed,” explained Jessica Eisenhauer, radiochemistry and radiation safety officer for the Vermont Department of Health.

“Uranium and thorium — along with their radioactive daughters such as radium — can be found in bedrock in many parts of Vermont,” Eisenhauer said. “The type of bedrock, location of the aquifer, and depth of the well can affect whether these elements make their way into your well water.”

Drinking water that contains elevated levels of uranium or radium over a long period of time can cause kidney damage or cancer, Eisenhauer said.

You can have your well water tested by ordering the Health Department’s homeowner’s drinking water test kits, at a cost of $159. The three kits test for “gross alpha radiation,” along with other common contaminants including lead, arsenic and E. coli.

The kits, which come with instructions on how to sample water from your tap, are available through the Health Department Laboratory by calling 1-855-472-6979. The Health Department recommends testing with all three kits every five years, while the coliform bacteria test should be done once a year.

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If alpha radiation is found, the Health Department may suggest further testing to identify the specific element in your water. You can call the Drinking Water Program at 800-439-8550 to help determine if further testing is necessary and to get assistance with treatment.

The Health Department advises anyone who wants to test their water to use only the services of a certified laboratory.

Read more at Radiation Could Be Contaminating Vermonters’ Well Water. Test Today.

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