Preliminary Fallon well tests show radiation, no pollutants
RENO, Nev. (AP) – Preliminary test results of 100 private wells in the Fallon area show many contain some levels of naturally occurring radioactivity but no fuels, pesticides or other man-made pollutants.
The tests by the U.S Geological Survey are part of an investigation into a childhood leukemia cluster. Fourteen children have been diagnosed since 1997. Two have died.
Experts suspect an environmental cause and are looking for clues.
Though radiation can be a source for leukemia, state health officials have said patients’ families got their drinking water from different sources, including bottled water and municipal supplies and rural wells.
Because of that, they say the rural wells are not a common link to the 14 cases.
The USGS tests appear to suggest that chemicals in drinking water are not a source of the illnesses, officials said.
”In the vast majority of results, we’re not seeing solvents, fuels or any volatiles in the water,” said Terry Rees, Nevada district chief at the USGS office in Carson City.
”We are seeing some heavy metals, but aside from the arsenic, the magnesium and molybdenum are still below federal drinking water standards.”
Rees said the high radiation levels have been found in some of the privately owned wells tapping the shallow and intermediate aquifers.
The municipal water supply comes from four city-owned wells sunk into the deeper basalt aquifer and that underground supply doesn’t have high uranium levels, he said.
Federal and state health officials are scheduled this week to collect air, soil and water samples in Fallon. The scientists will test for many elements, chemicals and compounds, including radiation and uranium isotopes, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
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