What is radon?
Radon is a gas that has no colour, odour, or taste, and is derived from the natural radioactive decomposition of uranium in the soil. You can be exposed to radon from two main sources: Radon can be found in the air you breathe and the water you drink. Radon is also contained in a small amount in the outside air.
Most of the radon in the room air comes from the floor under the house. When uranium collapses, radon gas is generated and penetrates the house. Radon from the ground can invade any type of building, apartment, office, school and can accumulate in high concentrations in the air inside the building.
Radon gas may dissolve and accumulate in water from groundwater sources such as wells. When water containing radon is used at home for showering, washing dishes, and cooking, radon gas escapes from the water and is released into the air. Like sodium carbonate, it is released when carbon dioxide dissolves in the carbonated soda and the bottle is opened. Part of the radon also stays in the water.
Radon is released into the atmosphere before it reaches the faucet, so water from lakes, rivers, and reservoirs (called surface water) is not a problem.
Why is radon in drinking water harmful?
Inhaling radon into the room air can cause lung cancer. Radon gas breaks down into radioactive particles that can be trapped in the lungs when inhaled. As they continue to collapse, these particles emit small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and increase the risk of developing lung cancer during your life. Smokers are at even greater risk. Not all people exposed to high levels of radon develop lung cancer. However, indoor radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Not all drinking water contains radon. When drinking water comes from surface sources such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, most of the radon in the water is released into the atmosphere before it reaches the water system or home. Radon is a problem only if drinking water is sourced underground, for example from a well that pumps water from an aquifer, but all water from groundwater sources contains radon.
What is the level of radon in the water to worry about?
The EPA proposed requiring municipal water utilities to provide water with a radon content of 4,000 pCi/L or less. This will add about 0.4 pCi / L radon to the air at home. This requirement assumes that the state has also taken steps to reduce radon levels in indoor air through the development of an EPA-approved and improved government indoor air radon program. This is because most of the radon you breathe comes from the ground beneath your house. This option encourages the public to deal with radon issues indoors and gives the state the flexibility to focus on the biggest issues by building a house to prevent radon.
How to test radon in drinking water?
When getting water from a public water system: Find out if the water system gets water from the surface (river, lake, or reservoir) or from a groundwater source (underground). If the water is from a surface source, most of the radon in the water will be released into the air before reaching the faucet. If the water comes from a groundwater source, call the water supply system, and ask if the water has been tested for radon.
Individual wells have been tested and found to contain high levels of radon in drinking water, and if that is a concern, there are some things you can do to improve water quality. The most effective remedy you can use is to remove the radon from the water before it enters your home. This is known as the point of entry process.
There are two types of point-of-entry devices that remove radon from water:
1-Granular activated carbon (GAC) filter (using activated carbon to remove radon) and Ventilator (Blows air into the water and releases radon gas into the atmosphere from an exhaust fan). GAC filters tend to be cheaper than aerators, but they are dangerous to handle due to the accumulation of radioactivity in the filters and require special disposal methods for the filters.
High levels of radioactive gas radon have been detected in the groundwater of Bengaluru, which increases the risk of stomach cancer for those who drink it.
A team from Bangalore University and the Baba Nuclear Research Centre in Mumbai collected 78 water samples from Bengaluru drilling wells, shallow wells, surface water, and supplied drinking water. More than half of the samples contained radon at concentrations up to 1000 times the permissible limit of 11.1 Becquerel’s per litre.