Radiation can be found naturally in our water and in our air. It’s been found in both lately in one particular Vermont community.
Elevated radon levels were recently found in the basement air of the Marshfield municipal building. That issue was on the Marshfield Selectboard’s agenda for last week’s meeting.
A Lyndon man says he’s concerned about radon levels in his home. According to a detector he bought online this summer, those levels are sometimes close to the threshold for remediation.
“I understand that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, and I’m not a smoker, so I don’t have to worry about what I think is the first, which is smoking,” David Addeo said. “I don’t want to get lung cancer from the second one. I want to be healthy.”
Vermont health officials held a radiation public forum Wednesday night at the Jaquish Library, inside the same Marshfield municipal building that had the radon levels.
“I mean, I’d like to know more information,” Addeo said. “Is the detector I use reliable? Do I need remediation? And this actionable level — who set that?”
The Environmental Protection Agency set that level. However, uranium might also be present in the water.
In fact, elevated uranium levels were present in the drinking water at a Marshfield home recently. Both that home, and the municipal building, get their drinking water from wells.
The Vermont Department of Health says the bedrock under the soil in the Marshfield area contains uranium, which is not only radioactive itself but naturally breaks down into other radioactive elements, including radon.
With that in mind, Vermont has a new law on the books this year. If you install a new well at your home or you make your existing well deeper, you’re now required to test the water before using it.
An official with the Vermont Department of Health suggests that everyone with a well should follow suit.
“If you’re drinking water from a private source, there’s no one telling you to test it and treat it, but we do recommend it, because there’s all these naturally occurring contaminants throughout Vermont and the only way to know if your water’s safe is to test it,” Sille Larsen said.
The state health department claims that 90% of the wells in the Marshfield area have never been tested.
What if there’s an issue in your well?
“We recommend talking to a professional water treatment specialist,” Larsen said. “They are trained to install treatment at the house, and they will look at all the water quality parameters. And of course, you can call the drinking water program with the Department of Health. We’re more than happy to help anyone.”
Air test kits are available free of charge, while a water test kit normally costs $184.
You can get a free air test kit by calling the Vermont Department of Health at 1-800-439-8550 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you want to buy a water test kit, you can call a Department of Health laboratory at 1-800-660-9997. You can also find more information on the state’s water program by clicking here.