Radon in water is not a problem until the gas escapes the water as it enters your home through faucets, showers, bathtubs and washing machines. As radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless element, the need for a water test is all the more critical. Radon is a radioactive gas which comes from the natural decay of uranium found in nearly all soils. (for more information about this topic, see the following link: Radon in Mass. Link. To remove radon in water, a properly designed system that agitates the radon gas out of the water then vents it safely to outside of the home is an effective approach to correcting this problem.
POTENTIAL SOURCES OF RADON IN THE HOME INCLUDE:
1. Cracks in walls
2. Cracks in solid floors
3. Construction joints
4. Gaps in suspended floors
5. Gaps in service pipes
6. Spaces inside walls
7. In your water supply as gas is released into the air in the home.
SERIOUS HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
In 1988, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Radiation Control Program performed a study in conjunction with the EPA. The data gathered from that study estimates that one out of four houses may have levels above the 4.0 Pico curries/Liter in air action level. However, the only way to know if your home has a problem is to perform a test.
Radon is a Class A carcinogen and the second leading cause of lung cancer. The increased risk of developing lung cancer from radon is directly related to the concentration of radon and the length of time that a person is exposed to it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are between 5,000 and 30,000 radon-related lung cancer deaths each year. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, according to EPA.
Cigarette smokers should keep their exposure to radon as low as possible. Smokers have eight times the risk from radon as non-smokers. If the house was tested in an infrequently used basement, it may have measured a radon level that is higher than the actual level you are exposed to, spending most of your time upstairs. People with young children should be more concerned with the possible consequences of radon exposure 20 years from now than someone in their late sixties or seventies. Families with a hereditary predisposition of cancer should be more concerned about radon exposure than families who don’t have any history of cancer.
Question: My home inspector found radon in the home’s private well, should I not buy?
Answer: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and it can be found all over the world. It is produced in the ground through the normal decay of uranium and radium. This naturally occurring radioactive gas called radon in water is common in many wells. It doesn’t matter whether the wells are private or public and whether they are shallow or deep. Levels of radon in water can vary dramatically from one well to another, but most ground water contains some radon. The good news is that radon can be safely and effectively removed from well water. So if you love the house, radon is not the reason not to buy it.
AERATION SYSTEM TO REMOVE RADON IN WATER
An Aeration system would be installed on the main water supply just after the well tank. An Aeration system consists of a fiberglass or plastic tank in which water is depressurized and agitated. The best systems will use a combination of spraying the water and agitation in the tank to achieve higher reduction rates. As the water is sprayed and agitated the radon gas is released from the water in a sealed chamber and then is blown through a vent. The radon gas will then terminate outside the house where it mixes with outside air and quickly reaches normal background levels. The vent should be extended above the roof if there is any chance of the radon gas reentering the home and potentially exposing the occupants to high levels of radon. Radon is reduced 24/ 7, providing constant water pressure.
STATE CONTAMINANT GUIDELINE LEVELS FOR RADON MITIGATION (in pCi/L);
Massachusetts = 10,000, New Hampshire = 2,000, Maine = 4,000, Rhode Island = 4,000, EPA = 4,000
The above contaminant guidelines do leave you scratching your head as to why they have different actionable levels. If your well is experiencing a level of 7,000 pCi/L in Massachusetts for example, you are not legally required to do anything about it, however, you need to make the decision about whether you want your home to be exposed to this level of radon gas.
ESTMATED COST – A properly designed and installed system to remove radon from water will cost approximately $4,500 to $6,000 depending on other contaminants found in the water and the difficulty of installation, including proper venting to the outside of the home. With regard to on-going annual maintenance of the system, which includes a certified lab water test, you should budget approximately $250 per year for this.
H2O Care, Inc. is an established, full service water testing and filtration organization formed in 1989 with offices in Middleton, Stow & Lakeville, Mass. See our published articles on water quality issues at h2ocare.com/publications/. Contact us 800-539-1100 or [email protected]. To link to the EPA website on radon, go to https://www.epa.gov/radon.