Is Radon in Your Air and Water?

Radon, an odorless, tasteless and colorless radioactive gas, can enter your home not only through the soil underneath your home but also through the water that flows in. Although the risk of having radon in water is not as much as the risk and seriousness of radon in the air, it is still to your advantage to have your water tested for radon. Radon is only a serious concern if your drinking water comes from underground, such as a private well or a well that pumps water from an aquifer.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the radon in water poses a threat to your health through ingestion and inhalation. Research has been conducted and has found that the risk of having lung cancer due to inhaling radon in air is far greater compared to having stomach cancer due to swallowing water with radon. The severity of illness depends on how much water is used daily and how much water is aerated when you use it. Radon gas escapes from the water and goes into the air, much like carbon dioxide escapes from a soda bottle when you open it. So, if you have a water source that has radon in it, your indoor air radon levels can increase greatly when you use the washing machine, dishwasher or take a shower. However, if your home’s water supply is from a lake, river, or reservoirs, it is unlikely to have much radon in it because the radon is released into the air before it ever arrives at your tap.

If you own a home that is equipped with a private well, you are most likely going to need radon testing for your water. If radon is found to be present in your drinking water, there are two ways to reduce the radon concentration in the water. One is called a “point-of-entry” treatment whereby you can effectively remove radon before water enters your home by installing an aeration system next to your well tank. The aeration system is a large plastic tank that causes air to be agitated through the water so as to allow the radon to escape out once it is exposed to air. The air containing radon will be vented out of the tank and the water will undergo another re-pressurization process before the radon-free water supply enters the house. Another way to reduce radon in water is to use granular activated carbon (GAC) filters with activated carbon to remove the radon. However, because there will be concentrated radon on the filters, it causes a direct exposure and health risk when changing filters. Thus, the more expensive aeration system, is the best option for effective removal of radon in water and protection from exposure to concentrated levels of radon.

Some homeowners are hesitant to spend the extra cost to have radon testing done for their drinking water. However, if your drinking water is from an underground source, you are quite likely to need a radon treatment for your water supply. The good news is there are many NRPP (National Radon Proficiency Program) certified home inspectors in the market who can do radon testing for your home’s air and water supply.