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Radon and Water – What Is Radon and How to Remove Radon in Water
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that has no color, smell, or taste. It can dissolve into water posing a health issue for both private and public water supplies. In the United States, there are 30 to 1,800 deaths per year due to radon from household water. In this article, we’ll define what radon is, explain why you shouldn’t drink or use water with radon, and provide recommendations for several water filters that will remove radon in water. Our primary goal is for you to have safe, clean drinking water to drink and use throughout your home.
What is radon and how does it get into water?
Radon is a chemical element that is produced when uranium breaks down in soil, rock, and water. Breathing radon gas is the most common way people are exposed to this contaminant. However, radon can be ingested by drinking water contaminated by it.
Water from underground sources (i.e., wells, springs, and boreholes) may contain radon, whereas surface sources (i.e., lakes, rivers, streams, reservoirs) generally do not. Radon can even get into private wells. The presence of radon in groundwater depends on the surrounding rock and soil conditions. For example, groundwater that flows through granite, gravel formations, or granitic sand may have high levels of radon.
The US states with the largest number people affected by radon reported the public water supplies are California, New York, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Between these states, nearly 5 million people use public water supplies reporting levels of radon above health guidelines. Please remember these figures are for public water systems and don’t include private wells or supplies.
Even if you don’t drink water contaminated by radon, if you use it to shower, wash dishes, do laundry, etc. it can disturb the water and release radon gas into the air you breathe.
Most radon exposure occurs inside homes, schools and workplaces. Radon gas becomes trapped inside buildings after it enters through cracks in the foundation. It affects indoor air quality worldwide.
Health Risks of Radon
Each year there are 30 to 1,800 deaths in the United States due to radon from household water. Drinking water containing radon also presents a risk of developing internal organ cancers (i.e., stomach cancer). The health risks for ingesting radon in drinking water are smaller than the risks of inhaling radon gas. Needless to say, radon can cause cancer.
Breathing high concentrations of radon is linked with lung cancer. Researchers and the United States Environmental Protection agency (EPA) estimate it causes 12,900 – 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. This makes it the second most frequent cause of lung cancer (cigarette smoking is the most frequent cause). There are synergistic effects of radon and smoking – that is, if you smoke and inhale radon, you’re at a greater risk of lung cancer. Of the annual lung cancer deaths due to radon, about 2,900 of these deaths are people who have never smoked though.
Health Guidelines for Radon in Water
There are no national drinking water standards for radon. The Environmental Working Group suggests no more than 1.5 picocuries per liter for radon. This guideline represents a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. For values above this guideline, there is greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level.
If you know you have radon in your water or live in an area where radon is present, you are highly recommended to have a water filter suited for reducing radon.
What water filters reduce radon in water?
Activated carbon and reverse osmosis are filter technologies that reduce radon. For radon, the most comprehensive water filtration solution we would recommend is the Premiere PS-2000PB + HydroGuard Reverse Osmosis system.
- PS-2000PB is a 0.02 micron ultrafiltration membrane with activated carbon post-filter for lead, chemicals, heavy metals
- HydroGuard reverse osmosis removes up to 99% of contaminants providing pure, safe drinking water
Whole house water filters that reduce radon
PS-2000PB – Ultrafiltration membrane + activated carbon post-filter
0.02 micron ultrafiltration membrane filters out particulates like bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and colloidal materials on a microscopic level. Excellent VOC and chemical contaminant reduction including pesticides, benzene, radon, solvents, trihalomethane compounds (THMs), methane tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and other man-made chemicals. Unique feature to easily remove/loosen foulants from the membrane when it gets full – just turn a valve to purge the membrane.
BG-20PB – Activated carbon
0.5 micron nominal filtration reduces lead (soluble and particulate), chlorine, chloramine, cysts, cryptosporidium, giardia, entamoeba, toxoplasma, VOCs, sediment, pesticides, benzene, radon, solvents, trihalomethane compounds (THMs), methane tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and other man-made chemicals. High dirt holding capacity. 96%+ reduction of 8.5 pH lead; 95%+ reduction of VOC; 90%+ reduction in chlorine at 2 ppm; 83%+ reduction in chloramine at 3ppm.
Drinking water filters that reduce radon
PS-PURUF (select fluoride reduction filter option) – Ultrafiltration membrane + activated carbon post-filters
The 0.02 micron UF membrane filters out solids / particulates as small as 0.02 micron including bacteria, protozoa, cysts, viruses, algae, dirt, mold, silt, colloidal silica, clay, iron, sand, lead particulate, and more. Unique feature to easily remove/loosen foulants from the membrane when it gets full – just turn a valve to purge the membrane. The 0.5 micron activated carbon filter reduces volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), chlorine, chloramines, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, lead, trihalomethanes (THMs), methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), and more. The bone char carbon filter is highly effective for reducing fluoride, arsenic, chlorine, chloramine, lead, cadmium, mercury, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, aluminum, nickel, radionuclides, radioactive isotopes, fertilizers, uranium, radium, pesticides and herbicides from water.
PS-SQC50 – HydroGuard Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis provides pure, clean water by removing virtually everything in the water including radon. It eliminates up to 99% of dissolved solids, chlorine, fluoride, microorganisms, and heavy metals such as barium, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury. The FLOWLOK ™ leak detector shut off valve silently guards against any water leaks which may occur. It’s a unique device that works through a specialty fabric disc that expands upon contact with water. If the FLOWLOK™ disc detects water it expands and pushes the shut off lever to turn the water off to the system. The SHOKBLOK ™ system protection valve protects your system from water hammer and spikes in water pressure.
Curious about the differences between ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis? Read this article that explains and compares these filtration technologies.
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