It’s not that close – but then again, it’s not that far away either. A Hydrology professor from Auburn, Ming-Kuo Lee informed the residents of Fruithurst in Cleburne County on Tuesday of this week that four of 13 groundwater wells sampled in that area showed levels of Radon in excess of U.S. EPA recommendations for drinking water.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to Radon can cause cancers to develop in the lungs, if inhaled – or internal organs, if consumed in drinking water. The meeting, held at Fruithurst High School was organized after growing concerns over the number of cancer cases in that area, and the goal was to determine if the root cause may have possibly been environmental contamination.
Lee said the municipal water tested within the EPA safety guidelines for heavy metals, trace elements, volatile organic compounds and other substances of concerns – in other words, it is considered safe. Lee suggested everyone switch to safe, city municipal water just as soon as possible. Radon is usually a gas but can be present in drinking water taken directly from underground sources, according to the EPA.
The EPA said consuming Radon via drinking water causes more than 150 cancer deaths per year nationwide. A ProBlend production facility that made rubber operated in Fruithurt for close to 30 years, from 1987 to 2015, and there are reportedly a number of illegal dump sites in the area with large numbers of discarded tires that residents feel may be contributing to the problem. Researchers hope to conduct additional soil and water testing to get a better overall picture of the situation.
Fruithurst is located just east of Anniston near the Georgia line along U. S. Highway 78.