Since the discovery that ionizing radiation can produce ill effects in the body, various international and national groups begin to study the existence of radiation in the water. Also, they have studied how the human population is exposed to it. Furthermore, they have estimated the biological effects of such exposure.
Luckily, there is an abundant source of information on the biological hazards of ionizing radiation. For example, the Subcommittee on the Radioactivity in the Drinking Water has heavily relied on the data of the abstracts of the groups. They have summarized it accordingly per sections.
In other cases, it is possible to have the published and unpublished data into an assessment of the radioactivity effects in the water of the people in the United States.
The resources of the reports come from the groups of the National Academy of Sciences Advisory Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR), the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP).
As such in this article, it will discuss the presence of the radiological contaminants in the water. Also, it aims to explain ways on how to remove it effectively to make the drinking water safe from contamination.
All people around the world are exposed to natural ionizing radiation. It includes products of the radioactive decay elements in the crust of the atmosphere and the earth, as well as the cosmic rays.
Some part of the terrestrial radiation does come from the external sources to the body. Also, a part can be from the ingestion and inhalation of the radioactive elements in water, food, and air.
In America, such unavoidable background radiation can give a dose of 100 mmrem to the entire community each year. However, there is great variability in the amount of radiation. This can depend on the altitude plus the geological characteristics.
For example, in Colorado, studies found out that the background dose is around 100 mmrem or higher. Indeed, human beings have lived for generations with such level of radiation. The radionuclides in the sources of water can contribute as a small share with these levels.
An Abundance of Radionuclides in the Drinking Water
Indeed, there are little traces of radioactivity that can be found in the drinking water. Meanwhile, the composition and concentration can vary from place to place. It all depends principally on the radiochemical composition of the rock and the soil which passed on the raw water.
Furthermore, a lot of the artificial and natural radionuclides are found in the water. However, most of the radioactivity can be because of relatively few amounts of nuclides plus their decay products.
Here are some of the radiation emitters with low linear energy transfer: potassium-40, tritium, carbon -14, and rubidium -87. Also, radon-22, polonium-210, uranium, thorium, radium-228, and radium -226.
Sources of Low-Let Radiations
The radioactive elements can be the source of other radionuclides that are responsible for the natural radioactivity in the drinking water. The decay products that were added in the Earth with its formation plus others are continuously produced by bombardment of the cosmic ray.
Cosmic ray interactions can produce tritium with nitrogen and atmospheric oxygen. Then, it is oxidized to tritiated water until it is being mixed in the hydrosphere. The concentrations of the tritium in the water supplies can vary from about 10 to 25 pCi per liter.
In the same way, carbon-14 which is produced by the cosmic ray which interacts with the atmospheric nitrogen is being oxidized into carbon dioxide. Generally, it is found at a concentration which corresponds to around 6 pCi each gram of carbon.
In drinking water which contains I mg of carbon in each liter, it is expected to have a concentration of around 0.006 pCi per liter. Meanwhile, in ocean water, it can have around 0.1 pCi per liter of concentration.
Potassium-40 can be the most significant among all the natural radionuclides that can be found in the drinking water which also emit low-LET radiation. This primordial radionuclide can occur at total potassium of 0.0118%.
In the United States, adults can ingest around 2,300 pCi of potassium-40 each day. However, the majority of it can be from foodstuff.
Since the potassium concentrations in the human being seem to be under the homeostatic control, the fluctuations of water potassium in a wide scope can have negative effects on the internal concentrations.
For example in 1970in California, the drinking water can contain up to 4 pCi per liter of potassium-40. The consumption of 2 liters of such water each day can contribute to 8 pCi per day. However, this is nothing compared to the total daily intake of 2,300 pCi of a nuclide. Indeed, this is the largest natural contributor to a total genetic and somatic dosage.
Sources of High-Let Radiation
Through the crust of the earth, the radionuclides from the decay of thorium-232 and uranium-238 are extensively distributed. Many of them are known as alpha-emitters. It includes radon, polonium, as well as radium.
The uranium concentrations in the drinking water ware extremely variable, and it ranges from 0.02 to 200 ug per liter in the sources of the drinking water.
Meanwhile, the content of thorium in the drinking water has not been extensively measured. However, its concentration in the human skeleton is around 1 fCi per gram of ask. As such, the abundance of uranium in the human skeleton is said to be 10 times greater.
In the drinking water, studies have shown that the natural alpha-emitters are bone seekers. As such, radium -226 and radium -228 can have a great potential of producing harmful radiation doses to man.
The radium -226 fresh surface water content is variable, and it can range from 0.01 to 0.1 pCi per liter. Meanwhile, some groundwater resources can contain up to 100 pCi per liter. As such, the drinking water from the surface water supplies does not contain in general significant amounts of radium. With this, treatment processes like water softening and flocculation can remove the majority of the radium from the water.
There is an area in the Midwest of America wherein the groundwater contains significant amounts of radium-228 and radium-226. This area is in Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In the 1960s, the states have around 1 million persons.
The weighted mean concentration of radium-226 can be estimated to be 5 pCi per liter. According to studies, around 500,000 people in Iowa and Illinois have been drinking water which is contaminated with radium -226 of about 3 to 6 pCi per liter. Meanwhile, there are around 300,000 people who consume 6-9 pCi per liter, and around 200,000 people who live in areas with 9-80 pCi per liter of radium-226.
Also, the researchers stated that 113,000 people drink water that has 20 pCi per liter and 5,700 people drink 20-25 pCi per liter. In one community with around 1,200 persons, their well had 80 pCi per liter of radium -226. Now, they use water well with only 3 pCi per liter.
In a survey conducted in 1966, the researchers have found out that the water supplies have more than 3 pCi of radium-226 each liter in areas like those in the Northern Midwest. Such supplies cater to around 145,000 people. With the data provided, there are around 1.1 million people in the United States who consume water which contains around 3 pCi per liter of radium-226.
Furthermore, the major contributory element to the alpha-emission in the drinking water can be because of the decay of radium-228. However, there are other alpha-emitting natural that can be found in the drinking water. They occur in just small concentrations.
For example, in water analysis, water sample that contains 5 pCi of radium-228 each liter is found to have less than 0.02 pCi per liter of isotopes and thorium. Also, it contains around 0.03 pCi per liter of uranium.
There can be two other radium isotopes found in the drinking water. Radium -224 and radium-223 can contribute to the gross alpha activity of the water measured after drawing water from the tap. However, their contributions to the long-term dose in the skeleton can be negligible due to their short half-lives.
However, the radium-228 which is decayed by beta emission and does not actually contribute to the gross alpha activity in the drinking water can give rise to a series of alpha-emitting products. The radium-228 and radium-226 can produce the major alpha particle dose in the body tissues as well as in the skeleton. As such when talking about the presence of radium in the drinking water, it is crucial to distinguish the isotopic mixture in the long-term alpha dose and the freshly drawn drinking water.
Radioactivity in Drinking Water Effects
Developmental and Teratogenic Effects
The developing fetus can be exposed from radionuclides in the drinking water in the span of nine months. As such, the accumulated radiation dose for the fetus can be relatively small.
Although the fetus is considered to be sensitive to the effects of radiation in developmental stages, such periods can be short and limited. As such, the total dose that can possibly administer some teratogenic and developmental effects can be extremely small.
In the United States, there are around 94,400 genetic diseases per million live births. There are cases of soft-tissue dose live births, genetic defects, and bone diseases each year.
Radiation’s natural background can cause around 4.5 to 45 cases of cancer per millions of people. Each year, the whole-body radiation from radionuclides can contribute to the typical drinking water of around 1%. As such, cancers other than those in bone, can have an increase in the total amount.
For radium, it can be less than 7% of the total bone dose received from the background radiation in areas with a normal concentration of radium.
For the skeletal irradiation by radium, the average carcinogenic risk can be approximately 0.2 fatal cases of bone cancer per million persons each year per rein.
The Berkey Water Filtration System
One effective way to remove the radiological contaminants in the water is through the use of our Berkey Water Filtration for the family. With this innovation, one is assured that the whole family is protected from radiological contaminants in the water.
The Berkey Water Filter has seven available units, and it features the use of two Black Berkey Water Filters. Each unit can look similar, but it can differ on the storage capacity depending on the needs of the family.
According to laboratory tests conducted by our company, our Berkey Water Filtration System can remove around 99.9% of harmful chemicals, pathogenic bacteria, and even radiological compounds which are invisible to the naked eye.
Check out some of our Berkey products available below:
Royal Berkey Water Filter
One of our best-selling filters of the Berkey line of products is the Royal Berkey Water Filter. Indeed, this can be used by medium to large sized families. Amazingly, this is also suitable for family gatherings and adventures outdoors.
Truly, with the Royal Berkey gravity water filter, one can have safe drinking water which is free from radiological contaminants.
The storage capacity of the product is 3.25 gallons or around 12.3 liters of water. In normal use, the product can serve around 2 to 4 people each day.
Meanwhile, the product’s flow rate can be 15.1 per hour. It can accommodate two Black Berkey Water Filter on it plus the two chambers (upper and lower chamber). However, it can be configured to have four filters to have maximum protection against other chemicals in the drinking water.
Just like other products of the Berkey, the Royal model can remove up to 99.9% of the pathogenic bacteria, viruses, pesticides, and others. Surely, you can have almost a pure water with this one, thus grab one now!
Berkey Light Water Filter
Another awesome solution to eliminate the radiological contaminants is through the use of our Berkey Light Water Filter. This product has a water capacity of 2.75 gallons or 10.4 liters of water. It also features the use of two Black Berkey Water filters on it.
This product is made of non-BPA and non-BPS copolyester. With this, you are assured that there can be no water leaching inside.
It can cater to 1 to 5 people each day. When fully configured, it can serve around 100 to 200 people which is especially useful during emergencies.
Again, the Berkey Light Water Filter can remove 99.9% of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and even radiological compounds. As such, make sure to grab one now for your family here!
In a nutshell, the radiation which is associated with most of the water sources in such a small proportion of the normal background which all humans are exposed, that it is difficult to measure the health effects with conviction. In some water supplies, however, the radium can reach concentrations that can pose risks of bone cancer to whoever is exposed.
To protect loved ones from the ill effects of radiation, it is best to invest in a water filter such as the Berkey Water Filtration System. With this unit, rest assured that the family is protected from radiological harms.
EcoBlueLife.com is a replacement water and air filter company located in the United States. The views and opinions contained herein are solely those of the original author and do not represent Eco Blue Life or its affiliates. This article was originally published on TheBerkey.com