Sunday, October 9, 2011

Radon in Well Water Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Radon in Water Wells and Well Water

What is Radon?
Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, radioactive gas found beneath the ground. It occurs naturally and is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Radon has the ability to dissolve into our water supply.

How does Radon get into the water?
Most radon that is found in homes in Pennsylvania as well as many other parts of the country is typically found in the air. It is far less common to see radon in well water. Radon enters into a home from seepage through cracks in the basement floor and walls, but also outgassing from well water and the materials used to construct your home. When you live in an area where there is an abundance of granite or even sedimentary rocks that contain uranium or other radionuclieds you are more apt to find radon in the water supply.
High levels of radon gas are formed by the decay of naturally occuring radioactive elements in the bedrock within the region - the rock does not have to be granite, but any rock that contains radioactive elements.  This would include sandstones, siltstones, claystones, and shales within Northeastern Pennsylvania.

For radon to become a soluble within the water that travels through the cracks in the bedrock, it first has to come in contact with a radium source that is in the process of breaking down into the radon gas. During the transformation, the radon atoms that are created, will either go from the rock and into the water, or they will stay in the rock and not effect the water at all. Because the formation of radon in a sedimentary rock unit is a function of the distribution of radioactive elements, there can be a significant variation in the levels of radon in the air or water. When radon is found to be present in well water- the primary concern is not ingestion - but inhalation of the radon gas while showering, washing dishes, and wash chothes in a poorly vented area.

How to find out if there is Radon in well water?
1. Do you live in a radon hot spot?  Well if you live in NEPA you are in a radon hotspot.  To get more details go to our sister website on Radon in Water.  You will also want to get a Radon in Air Test.
2. Get the water tested informational testing or include this parameter in any baseline testing.
3.What is an action level ?

Good Question - This depends on the level of radon in both the air and water.  If the radon in air is over 4 pCi/L and Radon in Water at or above 300 pCi/L.  You will need to take some action to remediate.

How to remove Radon from well water?

There are two methods of removing Radon from well water. One is called a Radon Aeration system and the other a Granular Activated Carbon system or GAC system for short.  In general, Radon Water Treatment - aeration treatment - will also provide for methane reduction (90+% reduction) and  carbon block filtration (85+% reduction).  There are showerhead and faucet mounted carbon block units on the market that work very well.

Need for Help - Try these website

Radon in Water
Radiological Contaminants
Water Treatment Systems
Radiologicals and Marcellus Shale

Training Courses Related to Radon

Radon Measurement Training Course
Asbestos Training Course
Home Inspector Certification Program

Research Announcement-
Research in the marcellus shale region, looking for Private Well Owners with baseline data to permit us to collect radon in water samples for analysis. This is unfunded research that will be used as part of the new booklet. If you want to assist with this effort, please email - Looking for Private Wells in Northeastern PA.  To participate in this research effort, you must provide a copy of your available baseline testing data and submit an informational form about your well. It is our hope to conduct up to 200 radon in water tests in NEPA.

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