Radon in Water
Should I be concerned about radon in the water?
That depends upon whether you receive your water from a municipality, like a city or town, from a private company operating a well serving several homes or communities, or whether you have a private well on your property. Municipalities and private well operators serving others must ensure that the radon level in their water is less than the EPA maximum of 300 pCi/L (picoCuries of radon per Liter of water). Since government agencies have no control over private property, there are no restrictions for wells on private property serving one home.
My radon in water level seems high? Is it dangerous?
No. Concentrations of radon in water can often seem high compared to usual radon in air concentrations that are found during testing. According to the EPA, however, 10,000 pCi/L of radon in the water will release only ~1.0 pCi/L of radon into the air when the water is running (showering, running faucets, washing dishes and clothes, etc), and so 300 pCi/L would be expected to release approximately 0.03 pCi/L of radon into the air, a minute and un-measurable amount. Using the EPA’s numbers, it would take approximately 40,000 pCi/L of radon in the water to release approximately 4.0 pCi/L of radon into the air in the home.
Is it safe to drink water with high levels of radon?
Yes, it is considered safe by the scientific community. To date, there have been no definitive studies which show drinking radon-laden water had a negative effect on the stomach, intestines or other organs. However, experts do caution that it may be possible that drinking water with very high radon levels could cause internal organ diseases, and that not enough is known about the subject. At this time, the only confirmed health risk associated with radon gas is an increased chance of developing lung cancer.
Can a radon in water problem be fixed? What is involved with radon-in-water mitigation?
Yes. A radon-in-water mitigation system can be installed. Radon-in-water mitigation systems generally fall into one of two categories, and usually involve the services of a plumber or water treatment company. The first involves using charcoal to filter the water before it enters the home. While initially cheaper to install, the filters must be replaced regularly. If the radon levels in the water are particularly high and the tanks are not replaced regularly, it is possible to have a low-level radioactive waste disposal problem with the tanks. The alternate and preferred method to mitigate radon in water is to use a system that sprays the well water into a large holding tank. Spraying releases the radon in the water into the air in the tank, and a suction fan vents the radon gas from the tank to the outdoors.