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Barium: The Poison No One Talks About

By Richard Mesquita, AquaMD
AquaMD is the water testing division of the American Water Council, a nationally respected provider of water education and testing services.

Have you ever heard of the metal barium? If you haven't, you're not alone. Barium just hasn't gotten the media coverage that lead, arsenic and mercury have received in recent years. Nevertheless, barium is just as dangerous to your health as those other metals and shows up regularly in public water supplies.

Where Does Barium Come From?

Barium was first identified in 1774 by Carl Scheele and first extracted by Sir Humphrey Davy of England in 1808. Since then, different forms of barium have been widely used in the manufacture of countless products:

  • Paint
  • Tile
  • Glass
  • Rubber
  • Textiles
  • Electronics
  • Paper
  • Soap
  • Linoleum
  • Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Spark plugs
  • Vacuum tubes
  • Fireworks
  • Fluorescent lamps
  • Rat poison


Because barium is used often in so many manufacturing operations, a lot of waste is produced that needs to be removed from the environment. How much? In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency reported more than 222 million pounds of barium and barium compounds were legally released into the air, wells, lakes, rivers and landfills.

Ten states account for about half of all legal barium released in this country:

1.    Texas (17.1 million pounds)

2.    North Dakota (15.7 million pounds)

3.    Illinois (11 million pounds)

4.    Alabama (10.2 million pounds)

5.    Michigan (10.1 million pounds)

6.    Colorado (10.1 million pounds)

7.    Minnesota (8.8 million pounds)

8.    Ohio (8.2 million pounds)

9.    Montana (7.9 million pounds)

10.Indiana (7.8 million pounds)

And 26 additional states released anywhere from 1 -- 7 million pounds of barium apiece into the environment. Of course, none of these statistics take into consideration the illegal, unreported dumping of barium metals into the environment.

How Barium Poisons Our Water Supply

In light of the millions pounds of barium released into the environment each year, it was only a matter of time until this toxic metal made it into our public water supply. Even worse, some forms of barium dissolve very easily in water, meaning, once it enters the water supply, it can spread quickly over great distances.

In fact, this has already occurred. Public water supplies contaminated with barium are everywhere. The magnitude of the problem grows worse with each passing day.

Looking at lab tests conducted on public water supplies that crossed my desk over a week's time, I found the vast majority showed some level of barium contamination. Some of the lab tests I reviewed were conducted on water from six states: Virginia, New York, California, Texas, Massachusetts and Oregon.

Again, these were only lab results that crossed my desk in one week. But that also illustrates how widespread the problem really is.

How Barium Affects Your Health

Exposure to small amounts of barium, dissolved in water, may cause a person to experience these problems:

1.    Breathing difficulties

2.    Increased blood pressure

3.    Heart rhythm changes

4.    Stomach irritation

5.    Muscle weakness

6.    Alterations in nerve reflexes

7.    Damage to your brain, liver, kidney and heart

To date, barium has not been shown to cause cancer and has not been linked to infertility or birth defects. Not yet, anyway...

I urge you to find out if barium and other harmful contaminants are in your water supply. If they are, for the sake of you and your family's health, you may want to consider a water purification system that treats those specific problems. Please be aware, however, no single system treats every problem.

Then, see your health practitioner about removing the contaminants that may have accumulated in your body.

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Please don't fool yourself into thinking that you can tell your water is safe by the way it looks, tastes, or smells.

Some contaminants in water are so harmful that they are measured in "parts per million" or "parts per billion." In other words, just a drop of these poisons added to gallons and gallons of water can be very harmful.

Just installing a filter to purify your drinking water may not be enough. You could still be exposed to contaminated water when you:

1.    Shower or bathe

2.    Wash your hands

3.    Wash laundry

4.    Rinse fruits and vegetables

5.    Wash dishes, glasses, and other utensils





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