A Water Compliance Report prepared by Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) found issues in water systems throughout the state. Carcinogens were found, such as benzene, and other toxins such as heavy metals, mercury, arsenic, chromium, cyanide, uranium, and radium, according to the 2014 report.
Wells provide the water supply for many rural residents, and it is up to the property owners to have the water tested for potential toxicity.
Janet McMahan lives in Ocilla, Ga., located in Irwin County, population of 4,414. Her son passed away of cancer two years ago, and she has documented cancer clusters in her area, allegedly due to arsenic and heavy metals. “People in Georgia need to be warned they are drinking arsenic, lead, and uranium in their water,” McMahan said.
Residents of Waycross, Ga., are experiencing high cancer rates, and fear that pollutants in the water and air are the cause. Joan Tibor, co-founder of Silent Disaster, a community group concerned with rising health issues in the area, said she was forced to move from her home after living in Waycross for 35 years.
“Doctors told me I would die if I did not move,” Tibor said.
Waycross is located in Ware County, Ga., with a population of 14,725.
Benzene, a widely used chemical in a number of industries and products, is a carcinogenic chemical that, according to medical literature, causes Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), and is linked to Myelodyspastic Syndromes (MDS), lymphomas and aplastic Anemia. Exposure can happen by inhalation, contact with the skin where the chemical is absorbed, or by consumption, such as cases of contaminated drinking water.