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Drinking water concerns in Northeast Wisconsin

GREEN BAY, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Drinking water in northeast Wisconsin has been found to contain excessive amounts of a chemical that can cause a childhood bone disease. U-W Green Bay performs ongoing groundwater studies to test for natural, non-radioactive strontium. The most recent study found unhealthy amounts of strontium in 73-of-115 samples taken from well water -- mostly in Brown and Outagamie counties.

The U-W Madison Water Resources Institute released the report.

Previous tests have shown a presence of the chemical in much of eastern Wisconsin. Green Bay scientist John Luczaj said families with young children who use their own deep water wells should have them tested at least once for strontium. It's a material that naturally dissolves from bedrock, and it's not the radioactive chemical of the same name that's a by-product of nuclear weapons' tests.

State health officials say infants and young children who take too much of the natural strontium can get rickets -- a disease that shortens and thickens their bones, and can result in deformities like knock-knee. Excessive strontium can also cause damage tooth enamel.

Water softeners and reverse osmosis filters can remove much of the dissolved chemical.