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Are Radionuclides in Your Drinking Water?

Radionuclides in your drinking water. Sounds dangerous, right? In this post, we look at what radionuclides are, how they get in your drinking water, and what you can do about it.

water treatment services in Lakeland & Bartow, FLWhat Are Radionuclides?

Radionuclides are atoms with an unstable nucleus that release radiation as they decay to a more stable form. This process can emit alpha particles, beta particles, or gamma rays, all of which have varying energy and penetration power levels. Common radionuclides include uranium, radium, radon, and thorium. These elements naturally occur in the environment but can become concentrated due to human activities like mining, industrial processes, and improper waste disposal.

How Radionuclides Get Into Water

There are several pathways through which radionuclides can enter drinking water.

Natural Sources: Because radionuclides occur naturally in rock and soil, groundwater passing through these materials can dissolve these radioactive elements, carrying them into aquifers and wells.

Human Activities: Industrial activities like mining and manufacturing can release radionuclides into the environment. Improper disposal of radioactive waste can also lead to surface and groundwater contamination.

Agricultural Runoff: The use of phosphate fertilizers, which may contain uranium and its decay products, can lead to radionuclides leaching into water supplies.

Atmospheric Deposition: Radon gas, a decay product of uranium, can be released from the ground and enter surface water bodies directly from the atmosphere or through runoff.

Health Risks of Radionuclides in Drinking Water

Exposure to radionuclides in drinking water poses numerous health risks, primarily due to their radioactive properties. Long-term exposure can increase the risk of cancer, kidney damage, and other severe health conditions. The specific health impact depends on the radionuclide, its concentration, and exposure duration.

Alpha Emitters: Radionuclides that emit alpha particles, like uranium and radium, can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. These particles can cause significant damage to cells and DNA.

Beta Emitters: Beta particles, such as those emitted by strontium-90, can penetrate the skin and cause burns. When ingested, they can damage organs and tissues.

Gamma Emitters: Gamma rays, such as those from cesium-137, are highly penetrating and can affect the entire body, increasing cancer risk.

Detecting Radionuclides in Water

If you’re worried about radionuclides in your drinking water, getting the water tested is crucial. Contact your local water supplier and ask them for a water quality report, which should include data on radionuclides. Additionally, private labs and water treatment companies offer testing services for homeowners who use private wells.

Removing Radionuclides from Drinking Water

There are several effective methods for removing radionuclides from your drinking water.

Activated Carbon Filtration: This method is particularly effective for removing radon and some organic radioactive compounds. However, it may not be sufficient for all types of radionuclides.

Ion Exchange: Ion exchange systems can remove charged particles like uranium and radium. These systems replace radioactive ions with non-radioactive ions, effectively reducing the concentration of radionuclides.

Reverse Osmosis: RO systems force water through a semipermeable membrane, removing many contaminants, including many radionuclides. RO is effective for both alpha and beta particles.

Distillation: Distillation involves boiling water and then condensing the steam back into a liquid. Distillation can effectively remove radionuclides, though it’s not practical for large volumes of water.

Let Tri-Florida Water Treatment Help

Tri-Florida Water Treatment Inc. is a trusted and professional water treatment service. We have over 30 years of experience and are experts in the industry. We have water treatment systems to ensure your drinking water is as safe and healthy as possible.

Call 863-965-1439 or fill out our contact form.