Radon is a colorless, tasteless, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally and is produced by the breakdown of uranium. Most radon-related deaths are due to radon gas accumulated in houses from seepage through cracks in the foundation. Breathing in high levels of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and results in over 20,000 deaths each year. Those that have had their homes tested and have found dangerous levels usually have a radon abatement system installed so that the danger is removed from the air.
However, up to 1,800 deaths per year can be attributed to radon from household water. High levels of radon can be found most often in the groundwater that flows through granite or granitic sand and gravel formations, even if you have a private well. Moreover, drinking contaminated water is not the only issue. Using water with high radon levels for showering, washing dishes, and clothes can cause the radon gas to be released into the air you breathe.
While only about one or two percent of radon in the air comes from drinking water, it still attributes to the increased risk of lung cancer over the course of your lifetime, especially if there is already a dangerous amount of it in the air and is another reason why testing and having a radon mitigation system installed is so important.
The radon that stays in the water leads to the risk of developing internal organ cancers, primarily stomach cancer. While this risk is smaller than the risk of developing lung cancer from radon released to the air from tap water, if you suspect a problem and your drinking water comes from a private well, you can contact your state and ask for a list of laboratories in your area that will perform tests on drinking water for a fee. However, keep in mind that radon is only a concern if your drinking water comes from underground and not all water from underground sources contains radon.
The type of radon remediation system installed in your home is chosen based on the type of foundation it sits on. There are two methods use to remove the gas from water. They are aeration and GAC. Aeration treatment is done by spraying the water and having it mix with the air and then venting the air from the water before use.
GAC treatment involves filtering water through a granular activated carbon. When this is done, the radon attaches to the carbon and leaves the water. However, disposing of the carbon may require special handling, especially if it is used at a high radon level or if it has been used for a long time.
Regardless of the treatment chosen, it is important to treat the water where it enters your home so that all of the water is treated. It is also imperative to maintain the treatment units properly as failure to do so can lead to other water contamination problems. The installer may provide a service contract. It is critical that you have your well water tested at least once a year, even after installing a treatment system in order to make sure the problem is controlled.