Traverse Mountain’s “Thallium Issue” cropped up again in February this year. This is not the first time that Thallium has been found in this particular water supply and it probably will not be the last. Thallium has dramatic health effects when consumed for extended periods of time, and sensitive populations need to be very careful drinking water that contains this toxin.
Naturally, certain opportunistic water dealers will be scaring customers into purchasing water treatment products that may or may not work. I recommend that consumers carefully evaluate the claims made against third-arty testing, industry best practices, and EPA recommendations. Your local Crusader dealer has the resources and support to ensure that clients in this area are able to purchase the equipment and support to ensure that they and their family are properly protected.
It is important to remember that the city of Lehi is doing the very best that they can to deliver the cheapest possible water that meets and exceeds federal limits. Since less than 3% of most city utility water is actually consumed by human populations, it is simply unrealistic to expect the city to produce “perfect drinking water” at the kind of prices locals are willing to pay. Utility grade water in the USA, while imperfect is significantly better than most waters in many other countries. We flush our toilets with better water than most people drink in developing nations. I sincerely believe that it is the privilege and responsibility of each homeowner to choose the quality of water that they want in their home by installing water quality management equipment to produce the utility, washing, and drinking water that they want.
Here is an excerpt from the EPA’s fact sheet about Thallium:
What is Thallium and how is it used?
Thallium is a metal found in natural deposits as ores containing other elements. The greatest use of thallium is in specialized electronic research equipment.
Why is Thallium being regulated?
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine safe levels of chemicals in drinking water which do or may cause health problems. These non-enforceable levels, based solely on possible health risks and exposure, are called Maximum Contaminant Level Goals.
The MCLG for thallium has been set at 0.5 parts per billion (ppb) because EPA believes this level of protection would not cause any of the potential health problems described below.
Based on this MCLG, EPA has set an enforceable standard called a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). MCLs are set as close to the MCLGs as possible, considering the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies.
The MCL has been set at 2 ppb because EPA believes, given present technology and resources, this is the lowest level to which water systems can reasonably be required to remove this contaminant should it occur in drinking water.
These drinking water standards and the regulations for ensuring these standards are met, are called National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. All public water supplies must abide by these regulations.
What are the health effects?
Short-term: EPA has found thallium to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: gastrointestinal irritation; nerve damage.
Long-term: Thallium has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: changes in blood chemistry; damage to liver, kidney, intestinal and testicular tissues; hair loss.
How much Thallium is produced and released to the environment?
Thallium is not produced in the US. Approximately 4,500 lbs. of thallium and its compounds were reportedly imported in 1987. Man-made sources of thallium pollution are gaseous emission of cement
Water Land TOTALS 2,606 2,770 Top Five States TX 6 2,020 OH 1,500 0 MN 1,100 0 CO 0 500
factories, coal burning power plants, and metal sewers. The leaching of thallium from ore processing operations is the major source of elevated thallium concentrations in water. Thallium is a trace metal associated with copper, gold, zinc, and cadmium.
What happens to Thallium when it is released to the environment?
Thallium does not long persist if released to water, but does have a strong tendency to accumulate in aquatic life. If released to land, it may bind to alkaline soils, but may otherwise migrate to ground water.
How will Thallium be detected in and removed from my drinking water?
The regulation for thallium became effective in 1994. Between 1993 and 1995, EPA required your water supplier to collect water samples once and analyze them to find out if thallium is present above 2 ppb. If it is present above this level, the system must continue to monitor this contaminant every 3 months.
If contaminant levels are found to be consistently above the MCL, your water supplier must take steps to reduce the amount of thallium so that it is consistently below that level. The following treatment methods have been approved by EPA for removing thallium: Activated alumina; Ion Exchange.
How will I know if Thallium is in my drinking water?
If the levels of thallium exceed the MCL, the system must notify the public via newspapers, radio, TV and other means. Additional actions, such as providing alternative drinking water supplies, may be required to prevent serious risks to public health.
Drinking Water Standards:
MCLG: 0.5 ppb
MCL: 2 ppb
Learn more about your drinking water!
EPA strongly encourages people to learn more about their drinking water, and to support local efforts to protect and upgrade the supply of safe drinking water. Your water bill or telephone books government listings are a good starting point.
Your local water supplier can give you a list of the chemicals they test for in your water, as well as how your water is treated.
Your state Department of Health/Environment is also a valuable source of information.
For help in locating these agencies or for information on drinking water in general, call: EPAs Safe Drinking Water Hotline: (800) 426-4791.
For additional information on the uses and releases of chemicals in your state, contact the: Community Right-to-Know Hotline: (800) 424-9346.
I personally recommend the following technologies be deployed by properly trained water quality improvement experts to reduce Thallium from water:
- Ion exchange with KDF-55C and activated carbon
- Activated Alumina
- Reverse Osmosis
Point of Use
- Reverse Osmosis
- Activated Alumina
Here’s the city of Lehi’s public notification about the issue”
Traverse Mountain Area Has Levels of Thallium Above Drinking Water Standards
Thallium has recently been discovered in the Oak Hollow Well resulting in a violation of the drinking water standard. Although this is not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened, what you should do, and what we are doing to correct this situation.
Lehi City Water routinely monitors for the presence of drinking water contaminants. Testing results we received on February 22, 2012, show that our system exceeds the standard, or maximum contaminant level (MCL), for Thallium. The standard for Thallium is 2 parts per billion for long term exposure, and 7 parts per billion for short term (1 to10 days).
What should I do?
You do not need to use an alternative (e.g., bottled) water supply.
However, if you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.
What does this mean?
The EPA has found thallium to potentially cause the following health effects from acute exposures at levels above the MCL: gastrointestinal irritation; peripheral neuropathy.
Thallium has the potential to cause the following health effects from long-term exposures at levels above the MCL: changes in blood chemistry; damage to liver, kidney, intestinal and testicular tissues; hair loss.
There is no evidence that thallium has the potential to cause cancer from lifetime exposures in drinking water.
What is being done?
The Lehi Water Dept. is currently using a different source of culinary water not containing Thallium to provide water to the Traverse Mountain area. We are flushing the pipes and aggressively sampling to assure the purity of your drinking water.
Lehi City Water Department is preparing a blending plan which will be implemented upon approval of the Division of Drinking Water. This plan will comply with the regulations of the State.
For more information, please contact Lehi City Water Dept. at 801-768-7102, ext. 3, or after hours at 801-836-1045
We are located at 2538 North 300 West, Lehi, UT
For further information contact The Division of Drinking Water at 801-536-4200
This notice is being sent to you by Lehi City. State Water System ID#: UTAH 25015.
Date distributed: March 8, 2012.
A message from Ron Foggin, Assistant City Administrator
“I want to let you know what we have done the week to reduce the Thallium levels. The Traverse Mountain Well was taken out of service, which is the only well in Lehi that has Thallium in the water. The Traverse Mountain area is now receiving culinary water from the 5thWest Well. Water samples were taken last week and the Thallium levels did not drop as much as expected, so it was determined that the culinary water system needed to be flushed. Monday, March 5th the Water Department flushed the Traverse Mountain area culinary water system and then took samples. The results showed much lower levels of Thallium. Some samples were still over the 2 parts per billion (ppb), which is why it was decided to put out the notice. (The Water Department will start delivering the notice today at approximately 10:00 a.m.)
Because the flushing worked so well Monday, the Water Department did more system flushing Wednesday and water samples were taken Wednesday afternoon. It takes the lab about 40 hours to run the test for Thallium, so we expect to get the results back on Friday, March 9th in the afternoon. If the results show Thallium levels under 2 ppb the Water Department will take another round of samples. In order to confirm the culinary water system has Thallium levels under 2 ppb all samples must have two consecutive results under 2 ppb. If the second set of results are under 2 ppb the Water Department will hand deliver notices to all the businesses and homes in the Traverse Mountain area stating the Thallium levels are below reportable amounts. If the Thallium levels are still over 2 ppb the Water Department will continue to aggressively flush the system and test. The flushing process will continue until we get two consecutive test results at all the sampling sites under 2 ppb.
The hope is to have this problem cleared up in the next ten days, but it is not known how long it will take to get the Thallium amounts below 2 ppb. The Water Department is committed to resolving the issue very quickly, so look for them to aggressively flush the system and sample as often as possible. We will make every effort to keep everyone informed and will share all the information we receive as soon as possible.”
Click HERE for a copy of the flyer that was distributed to every business and home in the Traverse Mountain Area along with an information sheet from the EPA about Thallium in drinking water.