Note: Strontium is a mineral that occurs naturally in the environment.
Non-radioactive or "stable strontium" is very common in
soil and bedrock and may dissolve entering groundwater.
Radioactive strontium does not occur in nature and is usually
associated with nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons testing.
This fact sheet deals with the occurrence of stable strontium in
can I be exposed to strontium?
nearly everywhere in small amounts. Air,
dust, soil, foods and drinking water all contain traces of strontium. Ingestion
of small amounts of strontium is not harmful. However, high levels of strontium can occur in water drawn from
bedrock aquifers that are rich in strontium minerals.
much strontium is safe in drinking water?
The US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a lifetime health advisory of 4 mg/L
for strontium levels in drinking water.
Water that contains more than 4 mg strontium per liter should not
be used for drinking water or to prepare beverages, food with water as a
major ingredient or infant formula. It
is safe to use this water for other purposes such as bathing, showering,
and household chores.
do I know if I have strontium in my water?
water has no taste or odor. The
only way to know if your drinking water has elevated levels of strontium
is to have your water tested by a state-certified water testing
can find a certified laboratory by searching the telephone directory under
“Laboratories- Testing” or by searching the lab lists on the
Department of Natural Resources website:
To help you understand
the results, you can contact your local health department (http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/localhealth)
or call the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) at (608)
can strontium affect my health?
While there is no
evidence to suggest that ingestion of foods or beverages that naturally
contain traces of strontium is harmful, exposure to high levels of
strontium during infancy and childhood can affect bone growth and cause
dental changes. Effects during
adulthood are less well understood, but there is some evidence that
strontium increases bone density.
strontium a concern for infants and young children?
Yes, infants and young
children who ingest too much strontium can develop a condition called
strontium rickets. Strontium
rickets is a disease in which bones are thicker and shorter than normal
and may be deformed. Deformities
of the long bones in the legs, such as bow-leg and knockknee deformities,
can cause lifelong problems with walking. A study conducted in Turkey found higher rates of one or more signs
of rickets including thinning of the cranium, delayed closure of the
fontanelles, beadlike growths at the ends of the ribs, conspicuous
thickening of the wrists, and leg deformities in children who lived in a
village with high levels of strontium in the soil. Breastfeeding
for 24 months or longer was protective against these effects.
there federal standards for strontium in drinking water?
Because high levels of strontium in water are relatively rare,
there is no federal drinking water standard at this time.
However, the US EPA has set three health advisory levels for
Strontium: a Lifetime Health Advisory Level (Lifetime HAL), a one-day
Health Advisory Level (One-Day HAL), and at ten-day Health Advisory Level
(10-Day HAL). HALs are not
regulatory levels or legally enforceable standards.
Rather, HALs serve as an estimate of acceptable levels in drinking
water. They are used by
Federal, State, and local officials when making decisions about the safety
of the drinking water supply. The
HALs for strontium are defined as:
HAL: A person who drinks
water that contains the Lifetime HAL or lower of strontium for their
entire lifetime would not be expected to develop any health problems
related to strontium exposure.
HAL: The level at which a
child, drinking 1 liter of water in the course of one day, would not
be expected to have any health problems related to strontium.
HAL: The level at which a
child, drinking 1 liter of water per day for ten days, would not be
expected to have any health problems related to strontium.
can I decrease my exposure to strontium in drinking water?
Its occurrence is not
well known, so sampling and treatment for strontium are not required under
the Safe Drinking Water Act. Work
is underway to assess the extent of strontium occurrence in
Wisconsin and to better understand its health effects in order to advise on needed
testing shows that the level of strontium in your water exceeds 4 mg/l, we
recommend that you treat your water with a device known to reduce
strontium levels or purchase bottled water for drinking and beverage
preparation. Contact the
Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services at (608) 267-1401
to find out about water treatment options that are available for your
home’s water needs.
Public locations with
individual wells (non-community wells), such as taverns, schools, and
restaurants, must obtain approval from the Wisconsin DSPS before
installing a water treatment system.
can I get more information?
For more information
regarding strontium in well water:
For information about
Back to Environmental Health
March 20, 2014