Radon in Water


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Radon gas can dissolve in ground water as the waters pass through the underground soils and rocks. This contaminated water can then in turn enter wells and be brought into the household. Radon gas will then be released into the home air as water is used. If a home has a high radon level in air, and there is a well on the property, it should be suspected that the well water may contain high levels of radon. Generally speaing for every 10,000 pCi/L of radon disolved in well water, the water system in the house may be contributing 1 pCi/L to the air radon in the house. Thus the well water radon may be contributing to the radon in the household and raising the risk of lung cancer for those living in the home. There are also studies that have shown that those that drink radon contaminated water have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer. Clearly well water radon is a health issue in our communities though it gets far less press when compared to air radon issues.

Controversy has developed over what constitutes an unsafe level of radon in drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that a person has a 1 percent (1 in 100) risk of developing cancer from life-long household use and consumption of water containing 20,000 pCi/L of dissolved radon. The EPA in recent years has considered rules requiring public water supplies to treat their water if radon levels exceed 4000 pCi/L. It is widely accepted that if your well water radon level is greater than 5000 pCi/L, it should be treated.

Finding radon in well water does not mean disaster for the home owner. Systems have been designed in the past few decades to help home owners treat there water in order to remove dissolved radon gas. Water radon mitigation systems can come at a high cost, however, depending upon how much radon is needed to be removed from the water source. These reduction techniques are discussed in the Mitigation link up above