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Scientists Home in on Causes of High Radium Levels in Key Midwestern Aquifer

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Oxygen levels, dissolved minerals among factors responsible for high concentrations of radium in untreated water from aquifer that underlies six states

U.S. Geological Survey scientists have shed new light on processes that happen deep underground.

Oxygen levels, dissolved minerals among factors responsible for high concentrations of radium in untreated water from aquifer that underlies six states

U.S. Geological Survey scientists have shed new light on processes that happen deep underground.

These processes — which cause radium to leach from aquifer rocks into groundwater — are responsible for high concentrations of naturally occurring radium in groundwater from the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer. This aquifer provides more than 630 million gallons of water a day for public supply to parts of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

A newly published USGS study helps explain how radium isotopes 224, 226, and 228 make their way into water in the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer and where concentrations are highest. Knowing where and how much radium is in groundwater is important because of the health risks associated with drinking water that’s high in radioactive isotopes. Known health risks include bone cancer and leukemia. 

 

Continue reading at USGS (United States Geological Survey).

Image via USGS.