Paper No. 24-7
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM
BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE LOCAL GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO NATURALLY OCCURRING RADIONUCLIDE CONTAMINATION IN PRIVATE WELLS
Testing of several hundred wells in Wake County (WC), North Carolina (NC), population over 1 million, suggests that 20-30% of all private wells in the eastern half of the county have one or more radionuclides (primarily uranium, radium, and radon) above a drinking water standard or other health-based threshold. This equates to 6,000 households with contaminated drinking water. Concentrations range as high as 10 or 100 times the drinking water standard. Drinking water with elevated levels of these contaminants poses an increased risk of various types of cancer over decades, and shorter-term exposures (of weeks or months) can cause kidney toxicity.
Recent media attention led to a temporary surge in well water testing requests, confirming the rate of exceedances predicted from many fewer data points. This certainty has led to increased efforts to inform the public of the need to test their well water, and also to a recognition that this is not only a local issue. This talk will present recent efforts to reach out within and beyond county boundaries to bring attention to this naturally occurring public health concern with impacts across the environmental and public health community.