According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), more than 170 million Americans are exposed to radium in their tap water, potentially raising their risk of cancer. The problem is most widespread Texas, where about 80 percent of the population is served contaminated water.
EWG collected data from public water systems around the country and analyzed five years of tests from 2010 to 2015. Radium was found in all 50 states – and the group found 158 public water systems in 27 states "reported radium in amounts that exceeded the federal legal limit."
Radium is associated with increases in bone cancer, with EWG toxicologist saying that even low levels of exposure can increase the chances of developing cancer.
Other communities may not be aware of their radium risk. That's why EWG built its own database where members of the public can do a simple zip-code search to find out what contaminants are in their drinking water. It's something EWG's Alex Formuzis said the EPA should have done.
"The EPA and the Safe Drinking Water Act specifically have largely failed the American people," Formuzis said.
Along with the EPA, EWG has taken issue with President Donald Trump's nominee for a top environmental position at the White House:
EWG alleges Kathleen Hartnett White "deliberately falsified data" on public water system radiation levels as head of the Texas commission on environmental quality in the mid-2000s. Hartnett White had no comment. We were told she isn't doing any interviews.