Radium scares

It cannot be seen. It cannot be tasted. It cannot be smelled. It is Radium 226, a radioactive substance naturally occurring in DeKalb’s drinking water. Residents have been ingesting this known carcinogen for decades without realizing it, until last year.

More than on eyear has passed since the City of DeKalb was notified of excessive radium contamination in its entire public drinking water system by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). The city has allowed its residents to continue drinking radium-contaminated water for the past 14 months.

When notified by the IEPA in January, 1991, the city put immediate and efficient efforts into obtaining a special release from an automatic state restraint preventing the extension of water pipes and sewer lines. The special release, or variance, was obtained by the city last June and it now allows this same radium-contaminated water to be brought to new business developments, to new housing, and to a growing population.

At the same time these things were occurring, the city was disregarding the health effects of radium on our community, especially upon expectant mothers, infants, young children, and the elderly. These groups are at greatest risk and most vulnerable to the absorption and accumulation of radium into their bodies.

If you have a nagging concern whenever you use water from the tap, it is time to contact the City Council and the mayor. Ask what the city is doing to get an alternative water source or to remove the Radium 226 problem.

Let the City Council know that the community is willing to study the problem together and find a solution. The public deserves information. It is better to be alarmed and then to tackle the problem, rather than to be alarmed and then angry that nothing was ever done to correct this insidious cancer threat. For information, call 758-0759.

Linda Lahey,

DeKalb Resident