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Radiation-Tainted 'Fountain of Youth' in Florida Could Prolong Life

7/26/2013 8:58:41 AM

Some Florida residents say that a radioactive spring could be the legendary fountain of youth.

In Punta Gorda, residents have celebrated a rejuvenative fountain for more than 100 years. At the peak of the fountain's hype, people would journey to the town and wait in line to fill up their own plastic jugs.

Water from the spring registered at 9.2 picocuries of radium-226 isotope per liter during tests in 1983, exceeding the recommended limit of 5 picocuries per liter. It also has high levels of magnesium, clocking in at 46 parts per million of the mineral.

Postcard from the Boston Public Library

Efforts have been undertaken to shut down the high-radium fountain. The environmental movement, which led to the 1974 passage of the Clean Water Act, threatened the fountain's existance. But when the City Council considered making changes to the well or plugging it up, locals fought back.

But officials have posted a sign warning the fountain "exceeds the maximum contaminant level for radioactivity."

Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León journeyed to Florida 500 years ago in search of the mythical fountain of youth (Jackie Snow, National Geographic, July 23).

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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