All humans need water to survive. But, what would happen if our elixir of life was actually contaminated?

Recently, a shocking investigation revealed that more than half of America’s drinking water contains radioactive elements like radium and chromium-6.

According to the study done by the EWG (Environmental Working Group), quite a large portion of tap water in all 50 US states is loaded with radioactive compounds which may increase the risk of cancer and cause harm to fetal growth and brain development. This is why this revelation is so alarming.

The EWG has analyzed around 50,000 public water facilities and discovered that 170 million Americans consume water supply which contains radioactive elements. In 27 states, water supplies exceeded the EPA regulations.

Even though radium has been declared the most common radioactive compound, it should be noted that chromium-6 which mostly comes from US air-force bases also contaminates water all over America. Radium was probably considered the most common element because it naturally enters groundwater through openings in the Earth’s crust.

Activities such as fracking or oil drilling tend to disturb the deposits from the rock and the oil, releasing ions, which “ionize” and pollute what ends up being the water. And naturally, the EPA classifies ionized radiation as carcinogenic and set safe limits in 1976. But the EWG claims the legal limits are outdated.

Americans Are Drinking Radioactive Water

This was made more obvious when nearly all samples from the investigation exceeded the public health goals for two separate radium isotopes set by California state scientists in 2006. These guidelines are hundreds of times more stringent than the standards set by the EPA.

As IFLScience points out, if California standards were adhered to in all 50 states, no more than one case of cancer per million people would occur due to the water supply. However, that’s not possible, since other compounds like fluoride are known to cause cancer. And water all over America contains a litany of cancer-causing chemicals.

A study done somewhere between 2010 and 2015, has found that around 122 million people are drinking water with radium levels above what is considered safe by the stricter guidelines set by Californian scientists.

Thus, the EWG issued a warning:

“Most radioactive elements in tap water come from natural sources, but that doesn’t take away the need to protect people through stronger standards and better water treatment,” Olga Naidenko, senior science adviser at EWG, said in a statement. “Millions of Americans are drinking water with potentially harmful levels of radioactive elements, but the outdated federal standards mean many people don’t know about the risk they face when they turn on the tap.”

Out of all states, Texas was the region with the most radium in its water supply. Around 80 percent of residents in this state have radium in their water.

So, in order to help people know if they are drinking radioactive water, the EWG put together an interactive map which requires only a zip code. You can find it by clicking here.

Do you live in a region with contaminated water?