Are You Drinking Radioactive Water

water_chernobyl_ruins_radiationWhether around the world or in small town America, there seems to be an undeniable truth in that any news of detectable radioactivity discovered in drinking water will be 1) suppressed and 2) the quantity of radioactivity will be underreported when the news does go public. From Chernobyl to Fukushima, and especially to Texas, the story is the same. The following video, A matter of Risk: Radiation, drinking water, and deception, chronicles the poor drinking water conditions in central Texas.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Disturbingly, there is an enormous amount of evidence to suggest central Texas water supplies have been compromised by radioactive contamination. What’s almost as disturbing: Texas officials have been slow to respond to the crisis. In some instances, the actions of officials seem to be negligent.

A matter of risk: Radiation, drinking water and deception . from Keith Tomshe.

The particular type of radiation of concern here is called ionizing radiation. Ionizing or charged particle radiation is different from sunlight that has commonly understood radiation such as ultraviolet and infrared radiation. The sun is often pointed at as a source of safe radiation in order to muddy the contaminated waters by those who have a selfish interest in underreporting the risks of radiation.

250px-Alpha_Decay.svgThe radioactive contaminants that we are concerned about in water are mostly alpha and beta particles. Alpha particles are from radioactive decay where essentially a helium 4 nuclei is released. Alpha particles are relatively large consisting of two protons and two neutrons but can only travel an inch or two in air. Paper can block alpha particles as can dry skin. Unfortunately if alpha particles are ingested or contact mucus membranes, they make a real mess of things especially cells and DNA.

Beta particles, on the other hand, are smaller than alpha particles and are either an electron or positron. The smaller mass of the beta particle allows it to travel further from the source, up to a few yards in air. Beta particles zip right through skin and a few sheets of paper, but can be blocked by thick plastic. However, the main risks from beta particles are from when they are ingested.

Yea, but…

lead_water_infrastructrure_jackson_flintThere are many natural sources of radiation in water, and groundwater sources are often more at risk than surface sources like reservoirs. There are also plenty of man-made sources and actions that increase the natural amounts of dangerous radiation in drinking water supplies. What makes this go from bad to worse is that the presence and quantity of radioactive materials in water are often either not measured in the first place, averaged over time or a cluster of wells, or wildly under reported through statistical and legal gymnastics. The bottomline is that the science does not lie, but the sources of the science can manipulate and withhold the facts when it suits them. And history has shown us over and over that it suits them.

Read Also: Lead in Your Water

Bone-seeking radioactive particles are no joke. They are cumulative and do cause cancer. There is no safe minimum consumption or exposure limit for them, and you absolutely cannot trust a government agency to monitor water systems for radioactive concentrations or even notify you if they are detected.  Even worse, if you are informed that there is a problem, it is very likely a long-standing issue and what you are told is most certainly underestimated. In fact I would bet that any reported level of contaminant in a water system that is barely under the threshold of concern is a fake number. There are statistical tricks and legal parkour maneuvers that provide any necessary adjustment to avoid expensive fixes in the name of public safety.

Sound the Alarm

It has been demonstrated many times over decades and continents that radioactive contamination in the water supply will be unreported, underreported, or downplayed. So it is up to the drinker of water to be vigilant and take precautions when necessary. And that’s you.

Geiger_counterWhile there are 10-minute tests for other water contaminants like lead, testing for radioactivity takes a special piece of equipment as well as a deeper understanding of what the results mean. In fact, the geiger counter comes in handy to test your water filter, if you have one and know how to use it. But sadly if you do detect radiation yourself, your life just changed; both inside and out.

Related: Epic Water vs Brita Slim

Most traditional water filters are limited in their capabilities to handle radiation. But some are better than others. Since water itself does not become radioactive, the radioactive particles can be filtered out similar to other contaminants. But unlike a clogged filter filled with sediments, metals, and parasites, a filter filled with radioactive particles is itself now, to put it bluntly, a component that could be in a dirty bomb.

Activated carbon can remove a common radioactive element found in water namely iodine-131. But when the load capacity of the filter is reached, you might not know it. It seems the best bet for the consumer is a combination of active charcoal and a reverse osmosis filter like the Epic Pitcher.

In the News

Water_Radiation_hotspot_JapanOne would go crazy worrying about invisible radiation in water given the amount we need to consume, cook with, and let flow across our skin every day. But there are indications when worry might be more necessary. Such as when there is a nuclear event in the news. Fukushima was a big one, but provided a test not unlike when a volcano spews ash and we can see how much lands and where. Globally, radioactive fallout from Fukushima was detected everywhere one looked. And even right here under my Big Sky. In this article from The Japan Times it is clear that the Fukushima situation is far from over. In fact the February 2017 article states the radiation level in reactor 2 has reached its highest radiation level since core meltdown in 2011.

So even if you have no immediate concern about radiation, you should have a plan and the supplies to act on that plan.

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9 comments… add one
  • Arnold Ziffel March 3, 2017, 10:59 am

    Having retired from a state regulatory agency that enforced the Federal Clean Water Act, our state’s Safe Drinking Water Act requires quarterly or yearly monitoring of public water systems for naturally occurring radioactivity. I remember one municipality that had done continuous public notice of one of its groundwater wells until a new well was installed that was free of high levels of naturally occurring radioactivity.
    Our state environmental program has to meet Federal requirements and was audited yearly by the Feds. I don’t know how other states manage, but my state remains very strict on ensuring the safety of public water supplies.

    • Doc Montana March 3, 2017, 3:41 pm

      Thanks for the read Arnold and the comments.

      Around here we have significant water problems due to both manmade and natural contamination sources. And we have amplified some of your natural problems through our activities.

      This story show one of the issues with Montana water:

      For instance, in Missoula, MT at the time of the story, there were three contaminants (including Uranium) in the water that were below federal limits but above health guidlines meaning that the water is safe to drink but is not healthy to drink. And there lies the rub.

      As you mentioned, there was public notice about an unsafe well, but was the water from that well still flowing to homes? Was there a boil order? How long until a new well was online?

      One place I lived had a plume of tetrachloroethylene slowly moving from a landfill into the aquifer, and then across town. Wells were turned on and off like wack-a-mole, but the monthly well check was not good enough since it was often public complaints that sped up the process. By then it might be too late since tetrachloroethylene targest vulnerable populations like kids and pregnant women.

      There are also contaminated plumes that enter the public water supply after storms, floods, and larger construction projects. So monthly or quarterly monitoring is acceptable at the 30,000 foot level, but not for the person raising the glass.

  • Arnold Ziffel March 3, 2017, 8:10 pm

    The public notice was from the town’s main well providing drinking water to everyone. It was a continuous notice for the level of radioactivity exceeded federal limits in the SDW Act. The well continued to supply water until the new well was put online. The old well is used only as a last resort for filling fire trucks. A boil water notice was not necessary since those are only issued if monthly sample results indicate acute fecal coliform contamination which then opens an investigation by the State.

    Where I live, the State mandates that all public water systems (PWS) test for the presence of coliform bacteria, radiation (community systems only), and chemically for both primary and secondary contaminants including VOCs, inorganic chemicals, and organic chemicals including pesticides. Lead and copper has been tested in community PWS since 1993. Fluoride is one chemical that can be naturally occurring and in some cases municipalities opt-in to provide fluoride treatment for dental health.

    Regarding landfills, prior to the Feds enacting Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation Recovery Act in the 1990’s, locating a site for a landfill usually fell to the most worthless piece of ground that would likely fail current hydrological siting criteria. Many landfills were placed without regard to recharge zones of aquifers or in proximity to PWSs. Remediation may help but in practical terms is costly over a long period. All of the older landfills which closed just prior to Subtitle D had to have methane, surface water, and groundwater monitoring spanning a 30 year post closure period. It was not uncommon for these sites to have to expand their monitoring programs and enlarge their borders due to contaminant plumes. These landfills were mostly unlined and were dug into the ground with several feet of dirt separating the groundwater.

    • TreeStand March 3, 2017, 9:11 pm

      Thanks again Arnold for the detailed reply. You are quite literate for a pig.

      The landfill I mentioned with the tetrachloroethylene problem was probably typical for many communities. The landfill property was acquired through some sort of shenanigans, and just happened to be upstream and uphill from the city. For the third strike, there was some backroom deal that allowed a particular dry cleaner to dump his waste in an unlined landfill.

      So my point is that money talks and public health walks. I know there are good people in the public works commission, but when you can distribute a hazard over years and square miles, it is easy to get selfish with personal profit, or avoiding scandal. But mostly both. And to our faithful readers, we just want them to be prepared.

      • Jim March 12, 2017, 11:31 am

        Fluoride is a poison in any quantity. The natural fluoride has a different composition than the one that government adds to your water. Naturally the one added to the water is a highly toxic version created by the manufacture of Aluminum. Do you see where this is going? Should I continue?

  • Roger March 8, 2017, 9:14 pm

    Really, Arnold is trying to help explain how the government tries to deal with a very long-term problem. One that has been around as long as civilization! And you respond by calling him names, so very mature! Perhaps if you tried to help solve a problem (pick one, there are lots), then you would understand the stupidity of your comment! Personally, I appreciate the information provided; thank you! GLAHP!

    • Doc Montana March 9, 2017, 6:31 pm

      Hi Roger

      Arnold Ziffel is the name of the pig on the TV show Green Acres. I sincerely doubt that it is the real name of an actual reader of this blog.

      So I used a different screen name for a deeper effect and added fun.

      I would not insult a reader. But I often google odd names out of curiosity. 10 times out of 10, my hunch is right.

  • Frank April 23, 2017, 5:43 pm

    Very informative ! Bravo !!

  • Dave H October 19, 2017, 3:25 pm


    I am trying to find a viable solution to the problem. Not drinking water just isn’t going to make it. I can see a filter being able to remove radioactive particles over a certain size. I believe 5 micron water filters are common. At this size they cannot remove viruses from the water. This means they would not be able to remove small sized radioactive particles.

    Let’s assume they are smaller than 5 micron and cannot be filtered. The next best thing is for the media to absorb the radioactivity. You mention activated charcoal/carbon is useful for Iodine 131. What is helpful for the hundreds of other isotopes that were released by Fukushima or potential released by a nuclear disaster in the good old US of A?


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