Radon In Water ... How To Test And Remove It
Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas released by the natural decay of radioactive materials in the soil and rocks underneath your home or business. The radioactive characteristics of radon can be a health risk. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that about 21,000 deaths per year by lung cancer in the United States can be attributed to radon. Though you may already be testing for and treating the presence of radon in the air, are you testing for the presence of radon in water? SWAT Environmental can help you to protect your home or your business from radon contamination in your water supply.
First, let's talk about the health risks of radon in water. Because radon is radioactive, the decay of radon in water releases radioactive particles into the air that can be inhaled. Continual exposure to such radiation increases the chances of cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has issued statements that radon is second only to smoking as a cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Radon in water occurs naturally as radon peculates underground and seeps into the water supply; a condition that occurs naturally throughout the United States. Additional radon gas appears inside a home or business when the radon in water derived from an underground source comes in contact with the air when water is sprayed from faucets and outlets in bathrooms and kitchens. Drinking water that contains radon causes no ill effects due to the fact that no radon gas is released when the water is drunk. However, the release of water in showers, sinks, dishwashers, toilets, and clothes washers does release radon gas. In other words, the presence of radon in water does increase the amount of radon in the air in a home or business.
If your water supply is directly channeled into your home from an underground well, testing for radon in water is an absolute requirement. If you get your water from a public system that provides water for more than 25 year-round residents, the law requires that the water system administrators provide you with a yearly report on water quality that includes test results on the amount of radon in water. If you get your water directly from an above-ground source such as a lake or reservoir, there is a much lower risk of excessive levels of radon in water.
If the tests done by SWAT Environmental show that there is excessive radon in your water, the radon gas can be removed by either aeration treatments or by treatment with a sediment bed of granular activated carbon (GAC). Aeration treatments work by removing the radon in water and venting it outside; GAC traps the radon in water for later removal. Both types are installed at the point-of-entry of the water supply into the home or business, but after any other water conditioning systems.
Within an aeration system, water is released into an aeration tank, air is injected, the exhaust is vented outside and the water is re-pressurized for use in the home or business.
A GAC system does not de-pressurize and re-pressurize the water. The water remains under constant pressure as it circulates within a tank that contains GAC particles that capture the radon in water and other contaminants. The sediment bed of GAC particles may have to be replaced after a period ranging from a few months to a few years, all dependent on the level of contamination of the incoming water.
Point-of-use systems can also be used to remove radon in water. For example, a carbon filter can be attached to a kitchen sink faucet. However, such an attachment would only remove radon in water at that point; similar filters would have to be attached at every point-of-use in the house to remove the radon in water at all those points. It may not even be possible to install such a filter for some point-of-use plumbing fixtures. Point-of-entry systems are the better choice over point-of-use systems for removing the radon in water to be used in your home or business.
Maintenance must be done periodically on both aeration and GAC systems. The valves and solenoids that enable the aeration systems to de-pressurize and re-pressurize the water must be checked; the bed of particles in GAC systems must be replaced when it can no longer trap radon in water or other contaminants. SWAT Environmental will discuss your options and the service contracts available for maintenance of both types of systems for removing radon in water.