Dr. Bill Field, a University of Iowa health physicist and epidemiologist, has advised the World Health Organization on radiation matters. He also currently serves on the Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board’s Radiation Advisory Committee, and was recently appointed by President Obama to the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, a group that provides advice to the Secretary, Health and Human Services regarding activities under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.
He spoke to KHOU 11 News about the public health dangers which he believes exist from the highly concentrated “radium scale” KHOU 11 News discovered forming inside the water distribution pipes in Central Texas. All of his statements were made as an individual professor and not on behalf of any governmental advisory board he sits on.
FIELD: It’s a reservoir of contaminants that sits there and depending on water quality and other issues, it can be released.
KHOU 11 News: So what you’re saying is, this idea of radioactive pipes, is very real?
FIELD: Oh it’s very real. If there is a change in water chemistry or change even in pH, it can desorb from the pipe scale and that can end up in the water…and the person on the end ends up drinking it.
KHOU 11 News: How would you compare the levels of radium contained in a glass of regular water from Central Texas, to the levels of radium concentrating inside the area’s water pipes?
FIELD: It can be tens to hundreds of thousands of times greater than what you would get in a glass of water.
KHOU 11 News: So your concern is, the radium building up inside of those pipes, going back into the water?
FIELD: Going back into the water and not going back at a constant rate. If you change the pH or chemistry you can get spikes of radium and then the consumer at the end is drinking this. That’s not being monitored.
KHOU 11 News: You’re talking about bursts of concentrated radiation?
KHOU 11 News: Getting into the drinking water?
FIELD: Right, exactly. Because if you change the chemistry of what’s coming in, it’s going to affect the scale. It’s going to affect the binding, if you will, of the radium to the pipe scale.
In a later email to KHOU 11 News, Dr. Field cited a 2008 journal article authored by members of the EPA’s National Risk Management Laboratory, which supports his statements and further described how the radiation bursts would go undetected in drinking water that is on its way from the pipes into area homes for consumption. The article begins by saying, “Previously, contaminants, such as Al, As, and (Radium), have been shown to accumulate in drinking-water distribution system solids. Accumulated contaminants could be periodically released back into the water supply causing elevated levels at consumers’ taps, going undetected by most current regulatory monitoring practices and consequently constituting a hidden risk.”