Cadmium levels spike in Pullman apartment complex’s water

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Residents in an apartment complex in Pullman cannot drink the water, as a routine water test showed high levels of cadmium late last month.

Mystic View apartments, at Thomas Avenue north of town, received a drinking water advisory from the Allegan County Health Department on May 25.

The department’s health officer Angelique Joynes said the owner of the 40-unit complex built in 1995 was complying with requirements to provide bottled water to residents.

Joynes said the EPA lists possible sources for cadmium water contamination as corroded galvanized pipes, soil erosion, discharge from metal refineries, and runoff from waste batteries and paints.

“Before the advisory before lifted, we will be working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which monitors the wells,” she said, noting it is not known when the advisory will be lifted. “Typically, it isn’t lifted after only a single (clean) test. Normally it’s at least two and sometimes three.”

A call to the MDEQ district office was not returned by press time.

The normal limit for cadmium in drinking water is 0.005 mg per liter or 5 parts per billion.

All of the samples taken May 10 at the apartment complex’s Type 1 well water supply showed up at levels that ranged from 0.063 parts per million to 0.082 ppm.

“We will not release the advisory until the water quality meets EPA standards,” Joynes said.

According to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the general public is commonly exposed to cadmium from breathing cigarette smoke or eating cadmium-contaminated foods.

Cadmium damages the kidneys, lungs and bones. The mineral does not break down in the environment, though some forms dissolve in water. Cadmium binds strongly to soil particles.

Breathing in high levels of cadmium can severely damage the lungs. Eating food or drinking water with very high levels severely irritates the stomach, leading to vomiting and diarrhea.

Long-term exposure to lower levels of cadmium in air, food, or water leads to a buildup of cadmium in the kidneys and possible kidney disease. Other long-term effects are lung damage and fragile bones. The EPA lists it a probable human carcinogen.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

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