Radon occurrence in groundwater from 16 geologic units in Pennsylvania

Evaluation of radon occurrence in groundwater from 16 geologic units in Pennsylvania, 1986–2015, with application to potential radon exposure from groundwater and indoor air
Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5018

“Results from 1,041 groundwater samples collected during 1986‒2015 from 16 geologic units in Pennsylvania, associated with 25 or more groundwater samples with concentrations of radon-222, were evaluated in an effort to identify variations in radon-222 activities or concentrations and to classify potential radon-222 exposure from groundwater and indoor air. Radon-222 is hereafter referred to as “radon.” Radon concentrations in groundwater greater than or equal to the proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) for public-water supply systems of 300 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) were present in about 87 percent of the water samples, whereas concentrations greater than or equal to the proposed alternative MCL (AMCL) for public water-supply systems of 4,000 pCi/L were present in 14 percent. The highest radon concentrations were measured in groundwater from the schists, gneisses, and quartzites of the Piedmont Physiographic Province.

In this study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, groundwater samples were aggregated among 16 geologic units in Pennsylvania to identify units with high median radon concentrations in groundwater. Graphical plots and statistical tests were used to determine variations in radon concentrations in groundwater and indoor air. Median radon concentrations in groundwater samples and median radon concentrations in indoor air samples within the 16 geologic units were classified according to proposed and recommended regulatory limits to explore potential radon exposure from groundwater and indoor air. All of the geologic units, except for the Allegheny (Pa) and Glenshaw (Pcg) Formations in the Appalachian Plateaus Physiographic Province, had median radon concentrations greater than the proposed EPA MCL of 300 pCi/L, and the Peters Creek Schist (Xpc), which is in the Piedmont Physiographic Province, had a median radon concentration greater than the EPA proposed AMCL of 4,000 pCi/L. Median concentrations of radon in groundwater and indoor air were determined to differ significantly among the geologic units (Kruskal-Wallis test, significance probability, p<0.001), and Tukey’s test indicated that radon concentrations in groundwater and indoor air in the Peters Creek Schist (Xpc) were significantly higher than those in the other units. Also, the Peters Creek Schist (Xpc) was determined to be the area with highest potential of radon exposure from groundwater and indoor air and one of two units with the highest percentage of population assumed to be using domestic self-supplied water (81 percent), which puts the population at greater potential of exposure to radon from groundwater.

Potential radon exposure determined from classification of geologic units by median radon concentrations in groundwater and indoor air according to proposed and recommended regulatory limits is useful for drawing general conclusions about the presence, variation, and potential radon exposure in specific geologic units, but the associated data and maps have limitations. The aggregated indoor air radon data have spatial accuracy limitations owing to imprecision of geo-coded test locations. In addition, the associated data describing geologic units and the public water supplier’s service areas have spatial and interpretation accuracy limitations. As a result, data and maps associated with this report are not recommended for use in predicting individual concentrations at specific sites nor for use as a decision-making tool for property owners to decide whether to test for radon concentrations at specific locations. Instead, the data and maps are meant to promote awareness regarding potential radon exposure in Pennsylvania and to point out data gaps that exist throughout the State.”

Link to Study 

Water Testing Radon

Air Testing Radon

Radon Air Monitoring

DCNR Announces Improvements To PA’s PaGWIS – Private Well Owner Database

DCNR Announces Improvements To PA’s PaGWIS
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recently announced improvements to the PA Groundwater Information System (PaGWIS) private water well database. PaGWIS is a repository of half a million water well records dating back to 1965. Changes to the database include the addition of more than 1,600 springs found in the Commonwealth, and improved search tools, data packages, and report formats.

To find out more, please see the link below:
http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/groups/public/documents/news/DCNR_20032750.pdf

Get Your Water Tested 

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) and Your Water

“A study by the U.S. Geological Survey published in 2002 brought attention to PPCPs in water. In a sampling of 139 susceptible streams in 30 states, detectable yet minute quantities of PPCPs were found in 80 percent of the streams. The most common pharmaceuticals detected were steroids and nonprescription drugs. Antibiotics, prescription medication, detergents, fire retardants, pesticides and natural and synthetic hormones were also found.

The potential human health risks associated with minute levels of PPCPs in water in general and drinking water in particular is still being determined. Until more is known, there is much the public health and environmental protection community can do to educate the public about taking proactive steps concerning the use and disposal of PPCPs.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are a diverse group of chemicals including:

  • all human and veterinary drugs
  • dietary supplements
  • topical agents such as cosmetics and sunscreens
  • laundry and cleaning products
  • fragrances and all the “inert” ingredients that are part of these products

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products are introduced to the environment as pollutants in a variety of ways, including:

  • intentional disposal of unneeded PPCPs (flushing)
  • bathing or swimming
  • discharge from municipal sewage systems or private septic systems
  • leaching from landfills
  • excretion by humans and domestic animals
  • runoff from confined animal feeding operations
  • discharge of raw sewage from storm overflow events, cruise ships, and some rural homes directly into surface water
  • accidental discharges to a groundwater recharge area
  • loss from aquaculture
  • spray-drift from antibiotics used on food crops.”

Other Resources
pharmaceuticals-PPCPs
ppt_ppcp_Presentation

Water Treatment – Point Of Use for PFOS and PFOA = NSF P473

Technical References

Handbook of Membrane Separations: Chemical, Pharmaceutical, Food, and Biotechnological Applications, Second Edition

Personal Care Products and Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater and the Environment

Your Drinking Water and Your Health

Your Drinking Water and Your Health by Brian Oram
Even though 60% of the human body is water, water is a resource that is often taken for granted. The primary concerns with water relate to having adequate quantity of the proper quality. In terms of hydration, drinking water is probably one of the best ways to keep your body healthy. Water is used in your body to help maintain your temperature and ensures the proper operation of your circulatory, digestive, and neurological systems. Water is one of the pathways that potential contaminants and disease causing agents can enter the body, so the quality is also important. Therefore, we need drinking water of adequate quantity of the proper quality.

When the body is not properly hydrated, our body’s response is to make us feel thirsty, but if you miss this clue watch out for dry mouth, swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, confusion, palpitations, and fainting. If over hydrated, you can become water intoxicated or hyperhydration. If hyperhydration occurs, the kidneys can not process all the water and the system becomes overwhelmed. There are phone apps and other tools to help you to remember to drink enough water, but our general recommendation is if you feel thirsty it is time to get a drink and given a choice pick water.
Water comes in many forms, which can include premium bottled water, tap water, spring water, carbonated water, soda, coffee, tap water, nutrient infused water, juices, and purified water. Of all these, it is my professional opinion that we just need to drink water. The two most common sources of drinking water for a community is either public water or a private water source. A public water source is always regulated by both the federal and state governments and many may call this city water or tapwater, but well or spring water may be from a public or private source. If you get your water directly from a well or spring, this is a private source and this is not commonly regulated.

If you get your water from city water, the most common health concerns are related to the presence of chlorine-by-products or corrosive by-product in the United States, the public water supply systems are disinfected using various forms of chlorine and phosphate is added to attempt to control corrosion. The chlorine is used to disinfect the water, but it can react with naturally occurring organics to form trihalomethanes, i.e., a potential carcinogen; while phosphate will react with the metals in the water to form a scale or coating on the inside of the piping, see “Flint, Michigan”. If you are on well water, the most common problems are the presence of bacteria and elevated levels of salts in the water, like nitrate, chloride, and sulfate, or corrosive water. In some cases, the water may contain elevated levels of radionuclides and trace metals, like arsenic, iron, lead, and manganese. The quality of the drinking water depends on type of water, location, level of treatment, the condition of your plumbing, and your home or house. In some areas, the community is concerned about pipelines and natural gas development, but a hidden problem may be the existing quality of their drinking water.

For citizens, our general recommendations related to drinking water are:
1. City Water Customers- Review any annual “Consumer Confident Reports” produced by your water supplier and act accordingly.
2. Private Water Sources –Get your water tested, at least annually, and have the results review by an expert.
3. Look out for potential problems with your drinking water, based on what you can see, taste, smell, or otherwise detect with your senses or problems that may be caused by the water.
4. Download our free “Know Your H20 Phone App” or visit our website – all Free.
A few short phrases we should try to remember.

We ALL Live Downstream !
Groundwater and Surface water are Connected!
We are Part of the Water Cycle – Not just an Observer!

Websites of Interest
Consumer Confidence Reports
https://www.epa.gov/ccr/ccr-information-consumers

Neighborhood Hazardous Reports and Water Testing
http://www.knowyourh20.us

Nationwide Program: Community Environmental Report Your Home Health Status and Know Your H20?

Nationwide Program:
Community Environmental Report
Your Home Health Status and Know Your H20?

Direct Link to this Nationwide Program-
Visit Us at http://www.knowyourh2o.us

Know Your H20?

We Launched Two – New Phone Apps and they are Available for IOS and Android Platforms

  1. Know Your H20? – Know Your H2O? is an educational tool that can help you diagnose the problem with your water. This app will lead you through a series of questions to pinpoint the issues with your water. You can reach your diagnosis through describing symptoms that are effecting your home, your health, or the water itself. This App is linked to the Water Research Portal.
  2. Baseline Water Testing (Pennsylvania) – The PA Baseline Testing mobile app is an educational tool for residents of Pennsylvania who are impacted by Oil & Gas Development or Subsurface Coal Development. By selecting which factor impacts your region, you can discover various recommendations and tiers of water testing that can help bring you piece of mind about the safety of your drinking water. Got Data? You can also submit your own testing data and results to help continue to build the PA Clean Water Team’s database.

The Nationwide Program

  1. The program helps you to identify the existing and historic environmental hazards in your community.
  2. We are working with a national environmental database search company to offer a report to help you understand your home or your future homes environmental health status within a community.
  3. We are doing this by taking a snapshot of the current and historic environmental concerns and hazards in the community and a review of select criminal activity.
  4. Featured Activities or Issues: Old Landfills, Leaky Fuel Tanks, Hazardous Waste Sites, Department of Defense Facilities, Superfund Sites, Radiological Sources, Clandestine Drug Labs, Floodplains and Wetlands and more.
  5. Report cost $ 55.00 per property, payable to the Keystone Clean Water Team.

Questions – please contact us at (570) 335-1947 or email the program manager, Mr. Brian Oram, at bfenviro@ptd.net.

Keystone Clean Water Team – 501c3
15 Hillcrest Drive, Dallas, PA 18612
http://www.pacleanwater.org

B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.
http://www.bfenvironmental.com

@KnowyourH20

Bacterial contamination in private water wells send thousands of people hurling to the ER

“It may not have been bad shrimp or dirty lettuce that kept you up all night. A recent study shows that in North Carolina, microbes in drinking water from private wells are responsible for estimated 29,200 emergency room visits for acute GI illnesses each year. That number accounts for nearly all visits of that type and cause.

This is a particularly serious problem in North Carolina, where more than a third of all residents — 3.3 million — rely on private wells for their drinking water. These wells, which can source their water from beneath the ground, a spring or a river, are largely unregulated.

(This is why contaminants from coal ash, such as arsenic, lead and chromium 6, which have even more harmful long-term health effects, are of such concern — and why widespread testing is necessary.)

An article in this month’s Environmental Health Perspectives — among its co-authors is Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health — concludes that people on private wells are more likely to get sick from their water than those on community systems, such as municipal utilities.

enviro-health-perspectives-drinking-water

From the Study

The presence of total coliforms in groundwater indicates that microorganisms from surface water have been able to reach the aquifer and a more rigorous monitoring should begin for other microorganisms (pathogenic) which might also reach the aquifer. When fecal indicators are detected, anything can happen, and will happen, with potential serious public health implications.”

 

To learn or read more – Go to  Article

More importantly to Act Now and Get Your Water Tested.

Monitoring your homes health and the hazards in your community.

 

America’s infrastructure collapsing Hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) was just found in 75% of drinking water

“(NaturalNews) An Environmental Working Group review of government water analysis data reveals that 75% of drinking water in America is contaminated with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium (also known as chromium-6). In a widely publicized report, EWG warns that 200 million Americans are right now being exposed to this toxic chemical in their water.

This is on top of our own efforts at EPAwatch.org where my lab tested hundreds of municipal water samples from across the country and found high levels of lead and other heavy metals in 6.7% of samples.

America’s infrastructure collapsing into Third World status

This quote at a recent rally in  Michigan is very true- “”we used to make cars in Flint and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico. Now the cars are being made in Mexico, and you can’t drink the water in Flint.”” Nor can you safely drink public water almost anywhere in America, as it’s almost universally contaminated with chromium-6, heavy metals or other toxic chemicals.”

To Read More: http://www.naturalnews.com/055408_chromium-6_drinking_water_chemical_suicide.html

Personally – We are the solution, not big govt, we must act to be informed, understand risk, and act.  You can Act NOW! Just some suggestions:

Act NoW !

  1. Get Your Water Tested – We recommend the Well Water or City Water Test Kit.
  2. Complete a Hazardous Survey Around Your Home!
  3. Get or Install a Point of Use Water Treatment Device  (Treated Water for Pennies a Gallon) !

Private Well Owner Outreach to Private Property Owners Association in the Poconos – Monroe County

The Keystone Clean Water Team was very happy to work with the local “Poconos Region” Property Owners Association to offer a private well water screening test for the residents drinking water.  For the 2016 program, a total of 16 residents participated in the program and for this program water testing was offered at two different tiers.  The basic tier provide general information related to the bacterial quality of the water and level of nitrate, iron, and total hardness.  The advanced tier provided testing for trace metals such as arsenic, copper, lead, zinc, and more comprehensive analysis of the overall quality of the water.  The following is a summary of the results:

2 samples were positive for total coliform bacteria, but no samples were positive for E. coli.;

1 sample exceeded the drinking water standard for lead and 5 other samples had detectable levels of lead in the water;

13 of the 16 samples contained detectable levels of nitrate, but at no point did the level exceed or approach the drinking water standard of 10 mg/L;

1 sample had elevated levels of manganese, but 3 had detectable levels of manganese in the water; and

15 of the 16 samples were considered slightly to corrosive to metal piping and 1 sample was considered very corrosive to metal piping.

The pH of the water ranged for 6.2 to 7.5 and only two samples had a pH that was less than the recommended drinking water standard of 6.5.  These samples were associated with water that had detectable levels of lead, but not the highest level of lead.  The sample with the highest level of lead appeared to be a sample collected at the kitchen sink after the water had been treated with a water softener.

From this snapshot, we learned the following:

  1. There appears to be a 13 % probability that a private well may contain total coliform bacteria.
  2. The water produced from the aquifer tends to be slightly corrosive and have total hardness that ranges from 30 to 150 mg/L.
  3. The groundwater does not appear to have elevated levels of nitrate.
  4. The groundwater does not appear to have E. coli. bacteria.
  5. Lead was detected in some water samples, but the occurrence in the well water is related to the corrosiveness of the water, type of water treatment, and type of plumbing fixtures in the home and not the groundwater aquifer.
  6. Homeowners that reported problems with sulfur odor or black particles were the same homeowners that had elevated or detectable level of manganese.
  7. If you are considering the use of a water softener, please consider the type of household plumbing and it may be necessary to install a neutralizing filter.

Based on these results, we recommend that all private well owners conduct an annual water quality test.  To facilitate this effort, the Keystone Clean Water Team offers an online mail order informational water testing program for private well owners throughout the USA and we offer our Know Your H20? Free Phone App. To learn about our mail order program, please visit us at http://www.water-research.net or http://www.knowyourh20.us.   If you have any questions, please call or email 570-335-1947 or bfenviro@ptd.net.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Mr. Brian Oram, PG

 

AquiSense POU POE Treatment System with UV Disinfection Multiple Barriers

AquiSense can help provide families with the purest water available.  The PearlAqua harnesses the power of ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy pathogens in the most natural way possible, without adding any harmful chemicals.  The PearlAqua has been compactly designed to be a Point-of-Entry (POE) or Point-of-Use (POU) system.  Physical filtration of the water is required before UV disinfection so a PearlAqua is a great addition to any existing water treatment system.

The PearlAqua was designed to work with any water treatment system so installation of the unit is easy and retrofitting is simple.  Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems remove dissolved inorganic solids from water, but not organic materials or pathogens.  This may lead to algae growing in the holding tank, but recirculating the water through a PearlAqua will prevent algae from ever growing. Traditional UV disinfection systems use a large amount of electricity and heat the water while they disinfect.  These systems also use mercury gas-filled lamps to create their UV light. Mercury lamps are very fragile and release mercury into the water stream when they break.

The LEDs inside the PearlAqua last for 10,000 hours.  A mercury lamp will have a similar lifespan, but a mercury lamp can only be turned off/on a few times per day.  This limitation leads to the lamp remaining on, even when there is no water flow – hence annual replacement.  The PearlAqua LED system can be turned on/off an infinite number of times per day, so the unit only runs when water is flowing through it, greatly extending the lamp replacement interval. For example, a PearlAqua unit that is on for 2 hours a day will only need a lamp replacement every 14 years!

 The Units provide  “The Home Concept

1 .DC input power means solar power is possible
2. After hot water tank as pathogen barrier
3. Point of use legionella control
4. Disinfect rain water after storage
5. Post septic tank for environmental protection
6. Reuse grey water without concern of infection
7. RO/filter system final polishing and/or bio-film control

For more news and information – Go to News Page

A few steps

Step 1 – Get your water tested.
Step 2 – Get the water properly treated.

Understanding the Health Risks of Private Well Ownership

Understanding the Health Risks of Private Well Ownership
Guest blogger / writer – Julie Bowen <julie@palatino.org>

As a country, we are proud of our reputation for having the safest and cleanest drinking water in the world. However drinking water that is procured from privately owned wells is not regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency or many state agencies, meaning that the owners of those wells are responsible for ensuring that their water is safe and drinkable. Water from private wells tastes crisp and refreshing, and it can be a wonderful gift to own your own water source. It is also important to acknowledge that many residents living in rural areas have no choice but to procure their water from private wells or cisterns.  However, regardless of the reasons that their water is sourced from private wells, it is essential that private well owners are aware of the health risks involved in private well ownership as well as the myriad of benefits that they can obtain.  

The Risks of Water Contamination

Drinking water from wells can be contaminated in a variety of different ways:  either due to naturally occurring chemicals and minerals, the land use and farming practices in the area surrounding the well, and a malfunction of the wastewater treatment systems operating on the well itself. As a result of this, there are a wide range of illnesses that can be contracted via drinking contaminated well water. These can range from short-term gastrointestinal and stomach illnesses that includes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea to more severe long term illnesses such as reproductive problems, neurological disorders, and other chronic illnesses.  Death by drinking water is not common, but it has happened.  Individuals with compromised immune systems, as well as children, pregnant women, and elderly people, are more vulnerable to the effects of certain contaminates and should be especially vigilant about the quality of their privately owned drinking water.

Two of the parasitic illnesses private well owners should be most aware of are Hepatitis A and Giardia (which is the parasite that causes the illness giardiasis, a common cause of diarrhea). Giardiasis is a relatively short lived condition, that is caused by water becoming contaminated by either mammalian or human feces. The parasite itself is resistant to basic chlorination, meaning that it tends to be particularly resistant to water treatment methods, however once infected most individuals have overcome the illness in approximately 7 days. More deadly are the risks posed by the liver condition hepatitis A, which is a highly contagious illness that is also contracted via the fecal oral route, due to water contaminated by infected feces.  Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection, but the symptoms can be severe and pose a particular risk to vulnerable individuals.

Taking the Appropriate Precautions                      

Because of the risks of being exposed to contaminated drinking water, it is recommended that in addition to regularly checking the quality of your drinking water, and taking the necessary precautions to ensure it avoids contamination, private home owners also secure comprehensive health insurance.  This will help them to ensure that they are fully protected in the unlikely instance that something should go wrong with their water supply, and they should contract one of the myriad of illnesses listed above.                          

The Keystone Clean Water Team (KCWT) is committed to ensuring that home owners with responsibility for private wells are given the support, the information, and the technology that they need to ensure that their well based drinking water is as clean and as safe as possible. The quality of well water should be tested at least three times a year, and the well itself should be regularly repaired and maintained to protect the water that is inside. When it comes to modern well technology, knowledge is power, so it is important to be as informed as possible about what is happening inside your well, and well as any possible risks that you face. The process involved in maintaining healthy well water can seem complicated, and the language involved in the process unnecessarily convoluted, which is why The Keystone Clean Water Team can help homeowners interpret their test results and ensure their water is as safe as it can be.

A few thoughts from the KCWT:

  1. When people say may water taste great and looks great – I have no problem – 50% of the time they have a problem that can make them sick.
  2. Of these individuals, 50% of the time the problem can be eliminated for a few hundred dollars.
  3. Some recent work on lead in drinking water found that 2 out of 3 private well samples had elevated lead; whereas only 1 out of 10 city water samples had a lead issue.  Testing your well water quality is important, but you must understand our risks.
  4. Blood lead testing is important for kids – get it done if you are living an older community that has or had historic industrialization.

A few suggestions:

  1. Download our free phone App.
  2. Get Your Water Tested (Portion of the Proceeds Help the KCWT)
  3. Get a Custom Neighborhood Hazard Report
  4. Order the Private Well Owner Educational Guide