Radon is a gas that has no color, odor, or taste and comes from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in the ground. You can be exposed to radon through air and water. Radon is also found in small amounts in outdoor air. Most of the radon in indoor air comes from soil underneath the home. Radon gas can dissolve and accumulate in ground water entering wells. When water that contains radon is used in the home for showering, washing dishes, and cooking, radon gas escapes from the water and goes into the air. Some radon also stays in the water.
Radon is not a concern in water that comes from lakes, rivers, and reservoirs (called surface water), because the radon is released into the air before it ever arrives at your tap. If radon is present in your drinking water, test the air in your home as well. Consider treatment for your well water if the radon from the water is causing the level of radon in the air in your home to rise above the recommended indoor air action level of 4 pCi/L. It generally takes 10,000 pCi/L in water to increase the radon level in air by 1.0 pCi/L.
Only about 1-2 percent of radon in the air comes from drinking water. However breathing radon increases the risk of lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Some radon stays in the water; drinking water containing radon also presents a risk of developing internal organ cancers, primarily stomach cancer. However this risk is smaller than the risk of developing lung cancer from radon released to air from tap water.
HEALTH ADVISORY - ACTION IS RECOMMENDED
Radon levels were detected in your water sample. There is currently no federally-enforced drinking water standard for radon.
- USEPA - Water: Basic Information about Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants - Basic Information about Radionuclides in Drinking Water
- OEPA - Radon - Radon in Drinking Water
- Ohio Department of Health - Indoor Radon Program
- ATSDR - Toxic Substances Portal - Radon
- ATSDR ToxFAQs Fact Sheet - Radon
- Water Systems Council - wellcare® information for you about Radon & Groundwater