Four reasons you don’t want radon in well water
Radon in well water is naturally occurring, and the gas potentially occurs in both the air and drinking water of your home. Secondwind Water Systems offers free water tests for radon contamination in well water for New Hampshire residents. In this post, we’ll briefly address:
- What radon is
- Why radon can be troublesome
- What levels of radon are safe
- How to reduce exposure to radon in water
What is radon?
Radon gas is released as a product of the decay of uranium in the ground. (Visit this post to learn more about uranium dangers and health concerns for New Hampshire residents.) Radon makes its way up through the soil and tends to accumulate in enclosed spaces such as homes.
This accumulation allows radon to attain concentrations that are hazardous to humans and to pets. Radon gas can also be found dissolved in well water and it enters the house through the water system.
Why is radon troublesome?
Radon has no odor or other indicator to announce its presence, but the potential threat to your family is very real. Radon gives off harmful radiation, which is attributed to an increased risk of certain cancers. Inhaled radon is known to be the second-leading cause of lung cancer, in many countries second only to cigarette smoking.
Radon exposure accounts for an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. annually and 15% of all cases worldwide. Smokers are at particularly high risk if exposed to radon concentrations.
Like other radioactive elements, radon particles give off tiny bursts of energy as they decay. These microscopic bursts behave like tiny projectiles, damaging the body at the cellular level. This cell damage can often develop into cancers. Because radon is most commonly inhaled, the bulk of the damage occurs in the lungs.
There is evidence that suggests stomach cancer may result from ingesting water with radon gas in it, although no significant study has been completed on consumption risks. Inhalation risks are well documented.
What levels of radon are safe?
In 1998, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a report requested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding radon. The EPA established a limit for airborne radon at four picocuries per liter. This level is considered the threshold of potential problems, although long-term exposure to as little as one picocurie per liter is considered risky.
The EPA has not established a maximum limit for radon in water because its contribution to household levels is inconsistent. The greatest risk presents itself when showering or remaining in a relatively enclosed area while significant water is being run, such as a bath or doing laundry.
This can result in intermittent exposures to very high levels of radon released from the water through aeration. Most radiation exposures have a cumulative effect; repeated short-term exposures to high levels will also increase the risk of negative effects.
How to reduce radon exposure from water
There are a few methods for radon reduction in water depending on the level. For simple removal of low levels, a filter tank filled with granular activated carbon media will collect radon, reducing the amount in water. Problems with this method are that its passive design makes it impossible to maintain any kind of consistent removal level, and when it becomes saturated it presents a radiation hazard for homeowners and water technicians alike.
This method requires frequent testing to monitor the media life.
A highly-efficient method for removing any level of radon up to and beyond 100,000 picocuries is an air stripper. This device uses aggressive agitation and aeration of the well water to strip out the radon gas and power vent it safely outside the home. The system then re-pressurizes the water for household use. We guarantee using an air stripper reduces radon by more than 98%.
If you haven’t had a test for radon in drinking water recently, it’s a good idea to do so. Schedule your free water test today and we will go over the results with you to ensure the safety of your family.