Most drinking water sources have very low levels of radioactive contaminants ("radionuclides"), most of which are naturally occurring, although contamination of drinking water sources from human-made nuclear materials can also occur. Most radioactive contaminants are at levels that are low enough to not be considered a public health concern.
A Beta photon emitter is a type of atom that is unstable and will emit high energy photons while it decays to become more stable. These high energy photons can ionize molecules in the body, such as DNA, disrupting their function.
Some people who drink water containing beta particle and photon radioactivity in excess of the MCL over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
ADVISORY - ACTION IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Gross Beta levels were detected at greater than 50 pCi/L in your water sample. Additional analysis is needed to determine the source of the Beta radiation.
ACTION IS OPTIONAL
Beta/photon emitters levels were detected in your water sample but do not exceed the maximum contaminant level.
- USEPA - Water: Basic Information about Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants - Basic Information about Radionuclides in Drinking Water
- ATSDR Toxic Substances Portal - Ionizing Radiation
- ATSDR ToxFAQs - Ionizing Radiation