Radon in New Hampshire well water
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that exists due to the radioactive decay of uranium, a common element in our bedrock. Radon in well water occurs when the gas dissolves into groundwater. The gas releases into the air when water is used in a home or building.
More than half of NH residents are on well water, and radon from granite dissolves into well water and goes directly into homes’ drinking and cleaning water. Radon also seeps into homes through cracks and seams in foundation floors and walls.
A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey finds that more than half of NH groundwater has a 50% or higher probability of having elevated levels of radon.
“This is the first study to look across New Hampshire and estimate the likelihood of encountering radon or uranium in groundwater, helping identify who is living in an area with potential impacts to well water quality,” said Richard Moore, USGS hydrologist and the lead author of the study. “The process of where and how groundwater moves varies across the state and is influenced by factors such as regional geology. This study applies a comprehensive dataset to understand potential transportation of radon and uranium in different settings, allowing us to produce location-specific estimates for both elements.”
Dangers of radon
Radon is invisible and odorless, but the potential threat to your family is very real. It gives off harmful radiation, which may cause increased risks of certain cancers. The radon in a water supply poses both an inhalation risk and an ingestion risk. Inhaled radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in many countries, second only to cigarette smoking.
It accounts for an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. annually, and 15% of all cases worldwide. About 100 lung cancer deaths per year in New Hampshire are due to radon exposure. Smokers are at particularly high risk if exposed to radon concentrations.
Radon in NH
Because of NH’s prevalence of bedrock, the state has a relatively high occurrence of radon in well water. Radon gas is found in all types of wells, but particularly in bedrock (aka drilled wells). Communities in the southeastern and eastern parts of the state have the highest percentage of homes with elevated levels. Rockingham, Carroll and Coos counties have several communities where more than half of the homes tested had elevated radon numbers.
Radon standards in water
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) sets maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) in drinking water for regulated public water supplies. Those levels are guidelines for private well water quality, as there are no regulations for contaminants in NH private wells. There is no maximum level for radon in public water, though in NH there is an advisory level of 2,000 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) for radon in water. At that amount or higher, the USEPA recommends treatment.
Testing for radon in well water
The New Hampshire Public Health Laboratories in Concord perform radon testing of residential water . Lab sample processing takes about three weeks and costs $20. Obtain a container for testing by calling (603) 271-3445.
Radon in well water mitigation
Treatment can be point-of-entry or point-of-use at the taps in your home. There are a number of treatment options available to those who wish to treat. We can remove 99% of your incoming radon quietly and reliably with the Bubble-Up air stripping system. A multi-stage diffused bubble aeration system will also remove 99% of your incoming radon with a quiet submersible pump. High-quality granular activated carbon, sized specifically for your home, removes radon.
Secondwind performs full health issues panels for residents that includes radon, arsenic, PFAS, bacteria and more. Contact us today and one of our certified water treatment specialists will talk you through the process.