Private well owners have to pay close attention to what is in their water supply, as there is no municipal testing before it comes through the pipes. Two of the most dangerous and common substances found in well water are radon and radium. Well water that contains radon or radium is a major hazard to your health, and unfortunately, these compounds have been discovered in Highland, MD and surrounding areas in the past. What do you need to know?
What Are Radon and Radium?
Radon and radium are two examples of radionuclides. Radionuclides are naturally occurring radioactive substances that are released as uranium and thorium present in the soil, rocks, and water decay. The most common radionuclides that are found in local groundwater supplies are radon, radium, and uranium. While the decay process is completely natural, that does not mean that you want to be consuming water that contains elevated levels of these compounds.
Are There Standards for Radon and Radium in Drinking Water?
Yes, the Environmental Protection Agency has set standards for the maximum safe level of combined radium 226 and radium 228, as well as for gross alpha radiation. While these are tested by city water facilities, your well water will not be tested before you consume it unless you work with a company like Atlantic Blue Water Services. We can provide you with water testing and help you decide the best way to move forward with filtration or treatment.
What Are the Health Risks of Consuming Radionuclides?
While radon and radium are naturally occurring, that does not mean that ingesting them does not come with risks. When you drink water with these substances in it, your digestive tract will absorb a small amount of it and distribute it throughout your body. Some of the radium and radon will be excreted in your urine and waste, but some of it will be deposited in your bones and tissue. Over years of exposure, this radiation can lead to tissue damage and an increased risk of liver, bone, and breast cancer.
If you are concerned that you have been consuming radon and radium through your drinking water after completing water testing, you should speak with your doctor. Urine tests and other tests can measure whether you’ve been exposed and determine what the best treatment might be.
Where Are Radionuclides Found in Local Water Supplies?
Over the years, there have been many different studies performed on local water supplies to measure the radioactive contents. In Anne Arundel County in the late 1980s, 15 out of 20 wells that were sampled had levels of radium higher than the guidelines set by the EPA. In other counties including Prince George’s, Baltimore, Harford, Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s Counties, only six out of 100 wells had elevated levels of radionuclides.
In 2019, more research was done on the Baltimore Gneiss, which is responsible for the presence of natural radiation in local groundwater supplies. In about 20% of tested wells throughout the area, radionuclides have been found in elevated levels. Even if you do not live near the Baltimore Gneiss underground rock formation, it’s still a good idea to have your well water tested for the presence of radionuclides if you have not done so in the past.
If you are having a new well drilled, you will have to have your water tested for a variety of substances including nitrate and bacteria. However, many new well owners also elect to have testing performed for things like radon and radium that are odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Without professional testing, there is no way to know for certain if your water has been impacted.
Can You Remove Radionuclides from Water?
Yes, there are many different treatment methods that can get rid of most of the radon and radium present in your water, as well as other compounds that might be considered dangerous. Reverse osmosis systems and ion exchange systems are two types of treatment systems that can improve your water hardness and get rid of up to 90% of the radium in your water. Aeration and Carbon Filtration can remove up to 95% of Radon from you water. It’s important to remember that the most important thing to cut down on is exposure to high amounts over the long term, so removing 90-95% of the radionuclides in your water is often more than enough to keep you safe. We can help you determine the best path forward to keep your water clean and safe.
Call Atlantic Blue Water Services for a Water Test for Your Private Well
Atlantic Blue Water Services is here to help homeowners and business owners throughout Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania in need of a quality water test. Call us today to schedule your water testing at 410-840-2583.