The Richmond Register

Local News

June 28, 2013

Treated drinking water given OK

FRANKFORT — Kentuckians shouldn’t fear their publicly treated drinking water.

That’s what Bruce Scott, commissioner of environmental protection, said after reviewing statewide data collected by the state Division of Water over a period of 12 years.

Scott requested the analysis in response to several scientific and health studies which appear to show a correlation between health and mortality risks and surface-mining coal operations.

“A number of studies have suggested there are health problems in eastern Kentucky that we wanted to evaluate relative to public drinking water,” Scott said. “We didn’t do it to refute a study. It was done in response to concerns expressed by those studies.”

DOW didn’t independently test water samples. It reviewed data submitted to the state from 519 public drinking water systems across the state, focusing on two heavy metals known to be carcinogens: arsenic and chromium.

“The analysis revealed that (arsenic and chromium) are not occurring in public drinking water systems at levels that cause health concerns and confirmed that Kentucky’s public water supply systems are producing consistently high-quality drinking water,” Scott said.

He said the study analyzed other metals, including beryllium, cadmium, mercury and selenium, and found they also were not present at unsafe levels.

The samples were collected by independent, certified laboratories and tested treated water not source water. The study did not examine private wells, which are unregulated in Kentucky, but Scott said another study on wells is underway.

West Virginia Professor Michael Hendryx authored some of the studies which prompted the DOW review. He has found a correlation between the presence of surface mining in the central Appalachian region and significantly higher death rates from cancer.

But Hendrxy’s studies focus on airborne particulate matter, small particles of dust and rock in the atmosphere, rather than on water supplies, although he suspects water contamination too. The studies do not point to a single culprit in the correlation between surface mining and poor health.

Hendryx said his first reaction to the DOW study is that it “is grossly incomplete.”

He said other contaminants, including chemicals such as ammonium or organic compounds, as well as contaminated well water and air pollution may be contributing to the high levels of cancer.

“Preliminary environmental sampling that we’re currently doing suggests that all three of these problems may exist,” Hendryx said.

In March, The University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released their annual County Health Rankings for all 50 states. The seven unhealthiest Kentucky counties in the RWJ ranking all have some surface mining and are located in the eastern and southeastern coal fields.

That study didn’t address surface mining, but it concluded many in eastern Kentucky are exposed to contaminated water.

“If you look at the preponderance of the data, it doesn’t support the conclusion that public drinking water is a contributor to cancer incidence in Kentucky,” Scott said.

Scott said his department looked at data from the National Cancer Institute and compared the rate of cancer incidence among regions of the state, including the eastern and western coal fields. The study concluded there is no correlation between the incidence of cancer and coal production.

But Scott conceded cancer death rates are much higher in the Appalachian coal fields than those in other regions of the state.

“That begs a whole other set of questions as to why,” Scott said.

The eastern portion of the state is generally less educated, has higher rates of smoking and other health risks and doesn’t enjoy easy access to medical care in all counties. But those factors are accounted for in the Hendryx studies, which nonetheless found higher rates of cancer deaths.

Scott said the DOW study did not differentiate between types of cancer. If pollution is creating higher rates of lung cancer, which is harder to treat and more deadly, for instance, that could also be a contributing factor to the higher mortality rates.

But Scott is confident the data reveals that publicly distributed drinking water is safe and isn’t contributing to health problems.

Nonetheless, he encouraged anyone with concerns about drinking water to report them to their public water system or to DOW because isolated problems can occur.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-23 Gravestone.jpg In search of the last resting place

    At a popular illegal dump site off Bybee Loop in Waco, two marble grave markers were among some items found there by Pat and Ronnie Aldridge, residents who live about 250 yards from the area.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fiscal court awards EMA bids

    Two more bids were awarded at Tuesday’s Madison County Fiscal Court meeting for the emergency operations agency.

    April 22, 2014

  • 4-23 Peter Crowe.jpg Intoxicated man charged with wanton endangerment

    A 27-year-old Richmond man was charged Sunday with second-degree wanton endangerment after he was found intoxicated and walking with several young children in the Keystone Drive area, according to a Richmond police report.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Absentee voting available for May 20 election

    Walk-in absentee voting for the May 20 primary has begun and will continue until May 19, County Clerk Kenny Barger announced Tuesday at the Madison Fiscal Court meeting.

    April 22, 2014

  • 4-23 Tab-a-PULLooza1.jpg Friday last day to collect pop tabs for Tab-a-Pullooza

    Before throwing that soda can in the recycling bin, twist off the pop tab and donate it to a local elementary or middle school for this year’s Tab-a-Pullooza celebration.

    April 22, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pot throwing downtown leads to arrest

    A Berea man was arrested Saturday after police say he damaged a downtown Richmond business and a parked vehicle by throwing flower pots.
    Jonathan A. McCullough, 34, was charged with first- and third-degree criminal mischief as well as alcohol intoxication, according to a Richmond police report.

    April 21, 2014

  • London police chief ordered to stay away from Berea woman

    A woman who who moved to Berea in February 2013 after a live-in relationship with London Police Chief Stewart O. Walker has obtained an emergency protective order against him from Madison Family Court.

    April 21, 2014

  • Task force reveals plan to make ‘Meaningful Math' matter

    It’s all too common to hear parents say, “I was never good at math...,” as if to excuse their children for not being good at math, said Madison County Schools Superintendent Elmer Thomas.

    April 21, 2014

  • WP_20140419_001.jpg Cruisin’ with the Oldies

    With the sound of classic songs wafting through the air Saturday, hundreds of people took advantage of the summer-like temperatures and turned out for the Kirksville Community Center car show.

    April 21, 2014 9 Photos

  • 4-18 Hong Kong 1.JPG Hong Kong fifth-graders visit Kit Carson

    A group of students from Hong Kong got a taste of the bluegrass last week thanks to an invitational education program at Kit Carson Elementary School.

    April 21, 2014 3 Photos

AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results