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UW-Green Bay study finds strontium in local drinking water


GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - A recent study from UW-Green Bay finds that a mineral called strontium can be found in your drinking water.

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services says that the mineral occurs naturally in the environment and this particular type of strontium is not radioactive.

"As you come closer to Brown County and Outagamie County, people have their wells pulling water out of rock layers that are further down in the earth," sUW-Green Bay Geoscience Professor John Luczha tells FOX 11.

The older rock holds minerals like strontium and if water is present, it can dissolve the mineral.

"If you notice where you have the yellow, and especially the red and orange dots on here, those are samples from wells where you have something like four milligrams per liter or higher, dissolved strontium. There are a number of wells throughout the region that actually exceed this short-term health advisory," Luczha said.  

The study took 115 samples from municipal and private wells. The Environmental Protection Agency says the Lifetime Health Advisory Limit for strontium in your drinking water shouldn't be more than four milligrams per liter.

Preliminary findings from the UWGB study found 73 of its samples contained higher levels of strontium than the EPA's recommendation.

“Somebody who maybe tests their water, and it comes out higher than four milligrams per liter, should not immediately assume that suddenly they're going to have negative health effects," Roy Irving, a toxicologist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, tells FOX 11.  

Unlike well water, the Green Bay Water Utility gets its water from Lake Michigan. Although the water goes through a filtration process, the company still tests for strontium and other material within the drinking water each year. 

Based on the UWGB study, the DNR is looking into the strontium results that were found. DNR officials recommend private well owners to sample their wells for bacteria, strontium, and other minerals that may be in the drinking water.