Elderly In Florida Town Swear By Radioactive “Fountain Of Youth”

fountain of youthEternal life or no, drinking this water daily is bound to have some interesting results. Via National Geographic:

Thanks to the myth of Ponce de Leon’s trip, Florida—known for its large population of retirees—is now awash in “fountains of youth.” Only one, however, is known to be radioactive.

In Punta Gorda, a town on Charlotte Harbor, a blocky, green-tiled fountain abuts an empty lot near the harbor. A spigot juts out near the top to release water from the artesian well below.

On the side facing away from the street, a public health notice warns that the water “exceeds the maximum contaminant level for radioactivity.” The water from the well is also heavy in sulfates, which give it a smell of rotten eggs. This hasn’t stopped the locals from drinking from it regularly. “I drank out of that well every day,” said Gussie Baker, a resident of Punta Gorda for all of her 78 years.

Punta Gordians proudly declared the existence of a rejuvenative fountain as far back as 1894. At the height of its popularity, in the mid-20th century, the handle on the tap had to be replaced every six months. Visitors usually come with lots of plastic bottles, or big plastic jugs that hold maybe five or ten gallons.

Punta Gorda’s water clocked in at 9.2 picoCuries of radium-226 isotope per liter when it was tested in 1983. This exceeded the recommended radium limit, set at 5 picoCuries per liter. As a result, in 1986, the city council mulled plugging the well, moving the fountain, and hooking it up to city water. But locals fought back.

“They’ve tried several times over the years to close it down, to seal it up, to move it or hook it to the city water, and the public has always defeated that,” said Wilson Harper, a 71-year-old former water utilities supervisor.

Radium isn’t the only thing that turns up in the water. The water from the aquifer is high in magnesium, which helps the body regulate heart muscles and control high blood pressure.

The compound magnesium sulfate also makes an appearance in the water. It’s better known as Epsom salt, which has been used in baths to ease aches and pains for years.

9 Comments on "Elderly In Florida Town Swear By Radioactive “Fountain Of Youth”"

  1. Simon Selvfed | Jul 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm |

    That city name means something like “fat tip” or “fat point”

  2. hey everyone loves a little radiation hormesis.

    • Anarchy Pony | Jul 27, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

      Especially this dick named Art Robinson that keeps trying to run in my congressional distract. All the wingnuts vote for him and jerkhole staffers put signs up everywhere, and then just leave them after election season.

      He even has his own Rationalwiki page: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Art_Robinson

      • holy shit man this guy… i don’t even…

        edit: i am extremely and pleasantly surprised to see that rational wiki’s perspective on Linear Threshold vs. Radiation Hormesis. It actually almost speaks favorably of radiation hormesis, in respect that it actually is possible but is still unknown (and separates the quackery from the non-quackery). I was really expecting it to just to be ramblings of “Woo Woo quack quack”. I suppose the “rationalists” around these parts of the interwebs may have soured my perspective a little too much.

  3. DeepCough | Jul 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm |

    What’s this? A Florida watersource not tainted with fluoride?!

  4. no fluoride, that is a very good thing

Comments are closed.