REDUCING RADON IN DRINKING WATER: THE WHY AND THE HOW
Radon is a harmful gas that has three main points of entry to your home. The most common way radon gas enters a property is through the soil underneath the building. Radon is an odorless and colorless gas produced from the decay of radioactive elements. While it is present outdoors, it is typically at a low level that is relatively harmless. When radon enters the indoor environment, it becomes hazardous to your health. The gas rises into the home through cracks and gaps in the foundation and flooring. Any home can have elevated levels of radon, not just houses with crawlspaces or basements.
Rarely, a small portion of your indoor radon gas can come from building materials, like granite countertops. But this radon is a minor cause of elevated levels and health effects. The third way radon can enter your home is through water, which contributes 1-2% of your indoor radon levels.
WHY IS REDUCING RADON IN DRINKING WATER IMPORTANT?
Radon in your home's water is released into the air every time you pour a glass to drink, wash the dishes or take a shower. Whenever you turn on the water, radon is released and trapped in the air inside your house, and some radon particles remain in the water. When radon is present in surface water outdoors, it is released as the water moves and dissipates when it hits the air.
Having radon present in your drinking water is dangerous because the gaseous particles are radioactive, making radon a carcinogen in humans; reducing radon in drinking water is essential to your health. Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking tobacco. On average, there are over 20,000 radon-caused deaths in the U.S. each year. While the only proven radon-caused cancer is lung cancer, consuming radon in your drinking water is still cause for concern.
Not everyone who is exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer and those who do typically produce symptoms 5 to 25 years after exposure. Smokers are at higher risk than others. Radon causes lung cancer because the gas gives off particles that, when breathed in, damage the cells lining your lungs. While the majority of radon-caused deaths are from radon in the soil underneath homes, the U.S. EPA estimates that radon in drinking water causes an average of 168 deaths per year.
WHAT ARE THE FACTS BEHIND REDUCING RADON IN DRINKING WATER?
Not all water contains radon, and radon in drinking water is typically only of concern when the water source is groundwater. If your house's water is sourced from surface water like lakes and streams, most of the radon it might contain is released before entering your home. If your drinking water comes from groundwater like a well or aquifer, you are at higher risk for having radon in your drinking water.
There are no federally-enforced regulations on radon levels in drinking water. The EPA has proposed regulations through the Safe Drinking Water Act that would mandate water suppliers reduce the radon level to 4,000 pCi/L, which would equate to 0.4 pCi/L of the radon in your air. This level is only if your local government has a program in place for reducing radon in the air as well. If there is no such program, the regulation will mandate a water level of no more than 300 pCi/L, or 0.03 pCi/L of the radon in your air.
HOW IS REDUCING RADON IN DRINKING WATER GOING TO WORK?
So, how do you go about reducing radon in drinking water? The first thing you need to know is where your drinking water is sourced.
If you get your water from a public system find out whether it's surface water or groundwater. If it's surface water, then most of the radon will reduce on its own before entering your home. If it's groundwater, you can call your public system and ask whether they've tested.
Once you know your water is sourced from groundwater, and your test shows elevated levels of radon in the water, you need to reduce the level. There are two ways to remove radon from your water before it enters the home. The first is called Granular Activated Carbon (GAC). GAC is a point-of-entry treatment that uses activated carbon. The other is an aeration treatment that mixes the water with air and vents the released radon outside of the home.
HOW CAN YOU REDUCE RADON IN THE AIR?
Most of your elevated radon comes from the soil beneath your home rather than building materials or drinking water. To ensure your family is as safe as possible from the threat of lung cancer, use a system for reducing radon in drinking water and schedule a certified company to test the air for radon. Any level above 4.0 pCi/L should be reduced. Have a mitigation system installed. These systems usually use a motorized fan placed in the lowest level of your home, that draws the radon out of the soil and vents it out at the top of the house where it dissipates into the air just as radon naturally does outdoors.
More info? For more information about staying safe in your home, check out our other post: NATIONAL SAFE AT HOME WEEK: PREVENT ACCIDENT-RELATED DEATHS IN THE HOME.
Call 877-957-5670 to schedule an appointment with an AdvantaClean radon specialist today!