What Makes High Radon Levels In Well Water Dangerous, And How Can You Lower Them?

Posted on: 8 April 2021

If your home is connected to a well, it's a good idea to test its water for the presence of harmful radon gas. While radon mostly receives attention for being found in the air inside homes, it can also be present in well water. Radon gas is naturally found in the soil, and it can migrate through tiny cracks in the bedrock surrounding a well, causing it to accumulate in the water. Since radon gas is radioactive, it's a carcinogen that's harmful to your health.

If you want to test your home's water, you'll need to purchase a test kit. You can find them in most home improvement stores. You fill the kit with water from your home, and the kit prevents radon from escaping the water until it can be tested. High levels of radon in your well water will increase the amount of radon in the air inside your home. To learn more about why it's dangerous to have high levels of radon in your well and what you can do in order to reduce these levels, read on.

Why Are High Levels of Radon in Well Water Dangerous?

Whenever you agitate the water coming from your home's well, you'll release the radon gas trapped between molecules of water. It will escape into the air inside your home. Whenever you take a shower, for example, radon will constantly enter your home while water is exiting the showerhead. Washing the dishes, taking a bath, and running the washing machine will also release radon into the air. You'll constantly breathe in the radon gas while you're inside your home, which increases your risk of developing lung cancer.

You'll also ingest small amounts of radon whenever you drink water from the faucet. This will increase your risk of stomach cancer. However, this risk is fairly small compared to the increased risk of lung cancer. This is why trying to filter radon out of your water with a filter pitcher or a filter that attaches to your faucet isn't a good solution — you need to remove radon from your water before it ever enters your home.

How Can You Prevent Radon in Your Well Water From Entering Your Home?

In order to remove radon from the water, you'll need to install a special filtration system. Radon water systems come in two main types: granular activated carbon and aeration filtering. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Granular Activated Carbon

Granular activated carbon filters are the least expensive type of radon water system. As your well water flows through the filter, most of the radon gas will be absorbed by the activated carbon. Activated carbon will absorb other common well water contaminants too, like pesticides and phosphates. Both are commonly used in agriculture, so they may be washed into the water table that feeds into your well if you leave anywhere near a farm.

Unfortunately, the fact that granular activated carbon filters absorb so many types of contaminants has a downside. The activated carbon will eventually become fully saturated with contaminants, preventing it from absorbing any more. At this point, you will need to replace the filter in order to continue removing radon from your well water.

Replacing a granular activated carbon filter is an expensive process as well. The fact that the activated carbon has accumulated so much radioactive material while filtering your well water means that it's considered hazardous waste. After replacing the old filter, the new one will need to be disposed of according to your area's hazardous waste restrictions, and fees for the disposal are typically quite high.

Aeration Filter

You can avoid the problems associated with a granular activated carbon filter by installing an aeration filter to remove radon gas from your water instead. Aeration systems are significantly more expensive than granular activated carbon filters, but they don't accumulate radioactive material, and they don't even become saturated with contaminants.

Aeration filters work by agitating the water in order to separate the radon gas from it. This is most often accomplished by spraying the water through a nozzle with very fine holes in it, creating very small water droplets and freeing the radon gas trapped by water molecules. Air constantly blows over the water, forcing the separated radon gas through a small duct that leads to a vent in your home's attic or exterior wall. By removing radon from your well water and venting it outside of your home, an aeration filter is able to prevent the radon in your well water from adding to indoor air radon levels.

Overall, your first step should be to check if your home's well water has high levels of radon. If the level of radon inside your well water is harmful, you'll need to install a radon water system in order to protect your health. It's usually best to choose an aeration filter for your system — they're more expensive to install than granular activated carbon filters, but they often cost less to own over time, due to the fact that they don't need replacement. If you're on a budget, however, then a granular activated carbon system is still quite effective at keeping radon out of your home's water supply.


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