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Radon in Well Water: Risks factors, Preventions and Treatments

Updated on February 18, 2021

Radioactivity in well water is a developing issue. It was not a serious concern a couple of decades ago but with increase in radioactive discharge from nuclear power plants, hospitals, and factories. Since it your responsibility to maintain private water wells, you must know about radioactivity in well water and how to deal with it.

How to test for Radioactivity in Water?

water examination

You can test your well water for radioactivity with home testing strips but we recommend lab testing. Labs are better equipped to identify radioactive elements and their concentration.

Standards for Radioactive Materials in Drinking Water

Environmental Protection Agency has set the standards for drinking water as follows.

  • Combined radium 226/228 of 5 pCi/L
  • A gross alpha standard for all alphas of 15 pCi/L (not including radon and uranium)
  • A combined standard of 4 mrem/year for beta emitters
  • MCL for uranium is 30 µg/L

If your results are above these limits, it is time for you to act fast and install a water treatment filter urgently.

Treatments to Remove Radioactive Elements from Water

Water Quality Association has listed the following methods to remove radioactive elements from your well water.

Reverse Osmosis – Reverse osmosis filters is best for removing radioactive elements from drinking water. A RO membrane can remove contaminants smaller than 0.001 microns. It is so small that it allows only water molecules to pass through. RO systems are up to 99% effective in removing radionuclides.

Recommended RO Filter: SpringWell’s Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

SpringWell’s Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

SpringWell RO filter is specifically designed for well water. The system has a 75-gallon daily filtration capacity to remove radioactive contaminants, TDS, heavy metals, VOCs, and fine particles in water.

The unit consists of one sediment filter, one RO membrane, and two carbon filters for 99% pure and healthy drinking water. It comes with a tap and mounting bracket for easy installation.

Salt-Based Water Softeners You can also use a salt-based water softener to remove nuclides. Certain precautions must be followed in this regard. The regeneration process must be frequent. You must use a high-quality salt if you intend to remove radioactive elements from water. Pay special attention to the disposal of water wasted during the regeneration. You don’t want it to enter your well again. It has an efficiency of 90%.

Lime Softening – Lime softening can also be used to remove radium from water. Adding lime to water will catch the radioactive elements and form solids. It gives 80% accurate results. It is usually used in public systems, where they have the infrastructure to handle the lime solids.

Points of Use Systems – You can also use point of use systems to remove radioactive elements from drinking water. These filters sit over a tap or an appliance and provide up to 98% pure water.

Health Risks Associated with Radioactivity in Water

Radioactive contamination can lead to fatal diseases like lung, stomach, bone, brain, and other forms of cancer. Pregnant women and children are more exposed. Radioactivity in water can also damage kidneys.


What is a radionuclide?

A radionuclide is a radioactive element. Radionuclides are mostly naturally occurring. They can either get into the water by its movement through rocks and soil or contaminate water from the radioactive waste materials.

What are the different types of Radionuclides?

The common types of radionuclides are given below.

Radon – It is a naturally occurring gas and belongs to the family of noble gases. EPA recommends that well water users must test for radon’s presence in the water.

Uranium – Uranium is a naturally occurring element and is commonly found underground and on surface water. It can readily dissolve in well water and contaminate it.

Radium – Radium-226 and Radium-228 are also naturally occurring elements. They may be present in a trace amount in water.

Alpha Emitters – They occur naturally or formed as a result of human activities.

Beta & Photon Emitters – They are mostly produced as a result of man-made activities. Such emitters are associated with nuclear plants, research, and manufacturing facilities using radioactive materials. If you have a well located near any such establishment, there is a high chance that your water will be contaminated with radioactive materials.

Is it safe to drink water with radioactive contaminants?

If the level of contaminants is below the cut-off values set by EPA and your state’s local health office, you can drink it without any worries.

What to do if I consumed water contaminated with radioactive materials?

Seek medical help immediately in case you are exposed to radioactivity or you drank contaminated water.

Final Thoughts

It is evident that radioactivity in your well water must not be ignored. You must get your water tested and put in an effective strategy to eliminate it from drinking water.


  • Earl Rojo

    Earl Rojo has been a senior mechanic in well drilling and maintenance firms for 3 years. He is from Longview, Texas, and he loves sharing his experience with others. He frequently writes on various well water issues with a special focus on well maintenance and drinking water quality.

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