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Radon in Water

   Radon in water sources can be an issue in rural areas where private wells are more prevalent. While radon in water accounts for only 11% of the annual deaths from radon exposure, it still adds up to a significant number.
   During the course of a normal real estate transaction, the radon levels in the AIR may be tested. But unless the radon levels in the air are found to be high, radon levels in the home's water supply may be overlooked. It may be a good idea when buying a home with a private water source to insist that the water be tested for radon as well. Again, be sure to use a third party like a certified home inspector to maintain the reliability and integrity of the testing process.
    If you are testing the water supply as a home owner for your own peace of mind, then radon test kits for water are inexpensive and available at RadonZone, RTCA, ProLab, and Northeast, to name a few.
    Radon migrates from the ground and into water supplies just as it migrates into the air. Fortunately, radon levels in water can be reduced by the simple process of aeration.

Who is at Risk of Radon in Water?

    Homes that have a private water source such as a dug well or drilled well are more apt to have high levels of radon in the water than homes with a municipal water supply. Radon moves into the water of private wells through the ground and tends to remain there until it is exposed to the air. In most cases, the water containing the radon isn't exposed to the air in the home until it is utilized for drinking water, showers, laundry, etc. It can then move into the air (inside the home) and present a health risk to the occupants.
   Areas that rely upon a municipal water source such as a reservoir, river or lake are at lesser risk of radon exposure through the water supply, since these water sources have exposure to the air before use. As winds and currents move the water around in the reservoir, etc, radon is released harmlessly into the air through the process of natural aeration. The water that is piped to homes in a municipal water system has a greatly reduced concentration of radon gas, regardless of the radon level of that water at the time of it's introduction into the water supply.

How Can Radon in Water be Reduced?

   As previously mentioned, a very effective method of radon reduction in water is aeration. The more exposure that water has to air, and the more turbulence, the less radon will remain suspended in it. Another method is a filtering system using carbon to remove radon from the water.

Radon Filtering System (GAC)

   One of the ways to reduce radon levels in your water supply is with a Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filtering system. This system consists of a filter which is impregnated with activated carbon. Radon is filtered out as water passes through the filter, reducing the concentration of radon to an acceptable level. GAC systems tend to cost less than an aeration system, but radioactive material tends to collect in the filter, which can present a hazard when changing filters.
   There are two types available: whole-house systems and point-of-use systems. The whole-house system filters ALL of the water entering the home, and is generally installed in an outdoor location. Point-of-use systems are installed on faucets and water outlets inside the home, so that water can be filtered before use. GAC systems and maintenance services are available at USRadon and Atlas Water Systems. 

Aeration Method of Radon Reduction in Water

   Aeration systems are another way to reduce radon concentrations in a water supply. These are by far the most popular method of water treatment, since an aeration system can treat large volumes of water at once. They are generally more expensive than a GAC system, but allow for more water usage in a shorter period of time.   
    Several types of aeration systems are available to remove radon from are the most popular:

Tower System

   In this system, water is sprayed into a tower and diffused through a number of plastic baffles. Air is introduced in the opposite direction to further aerate the water and release the radon it contains. Radon is released through the top of the tower, and the water is then stored in a pressurized tank after aeration.

Simple Aerated Water System

   Air is introduced beneath a storage tank filled with water, and the turbulence and bubbles carry away the radon from the water.

Spray Aeration

   Water is sprayed into the air and recouped in a tank. Air is blasted from the opposite direction to release the radon from the water.

Cascade Aeration

   This method use a cascade, or "waterfall" system to create water turbulence and release radon from the water.


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