Archive for July, 2012
The Quiet Carcinogen of Waukesha, Wisconsin: Waterborne Radon
Radon is a radioactive gas — perhaps one of the last things you would worry about finding in your home’s water supply. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that radon in water is one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the country. The carcinogen can be found in both the air and the water of many homes across the United States. Radon that becomes waterborne is easily released into the air over time. The total number of cancer cases induced by radon exposure amounts to thousands per year; they primarily include stomach and lung cancer.
Why is Waterborne Radon Referred to as a “Natural Occurrence?”
Radon is a byproduct of uranium that is created as the element breaks down in soil over time. Traces of radon have been found throughout the homes of the United States at a national average of 1.3 pCi/L. Radon gas seeps gradually up out of the soil into homes and businesses, where it concentrates and is inhaled — even though it cannot be detected without specialized testing. Radon gas easily passes into public groundwater, the same water that is absorbed by your skin in showers and passes through your tap at home. This odorless and tasteless gas is in fact “naturally” produced, yet high concentrations of it have proven to be deadly.
Radon has been discovered in the water supply and indoor air of Waukesha, Wisconsin in alarming proportions. It is interesting to note that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services acknowledges that approximately 270 radioactive material licensed users are present within Wisconsin alone. It should be no coincidence, therefore, that they further describe the entire state of Wisconsin as containing elevated radon levels due to uranium breakdown. The Environmental Protection Agency has advised a guideline limit of 4.0 pCi/L on radon concentration in homes, although there is still no official radon regulation law in effect in the U.S. The current indoor radon levels in Waukesha County have been found as high as 6.3 pCi/L, which is nearly six times the national average. The highest concentration of radon found within a Waukesha county home was 190 pCi/L in 2009.
What Can You Do about Radon in Water
Since you will not be able to tell when your air or water contains radon, you should have your home tested for the substance regularly. Radon in water can be removed from a water supply, but the equipment required to do so be difficult to install. To ensure that your home is properly protected, you should rely on the radon abatement experts from SWAT Environmental. Special filters such as granular activated carbon or aeration devices will generally correct the problem if your home is found to contain waterborne radon.
While the EPA has recommended private homeowners to take action if they find airborne concentrations greater than 4.0 pCi/L in their home, the EPA advised three standard limits for radon in drinking water to Congress on July 3, 2012: 300 pCi/L, 1,000 pCi/L and 4,000 pCi/L. If your home is supplied by a private well, you should be particularly cautious about monitoring your water’s radon levels.
- Waukesha, WI, 53188 USA
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