Radon Contamination in Drinking Water

Water Treatment for Radon Contamination

Radon is a naturally occurring tasteless, odorless, and colorless gas that's created by the radioactive breakdown of uranium.  It can get into the air you breathe and the water you drink. Radon enters your well by dissolving and accumulating into ground water. When water used for cooking, washing, cleaning and drinking is contaminated, the gas escapes into the air, much like carbonated drinks release CO2 when opened. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate the problem.


Radon can accumulate in a home, and breathing the gas has been shown to increase lung cancer risk. The gas decays into radioactive particulates, which can become trapped in the lungs and over the course of time, increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Compromised indoor air is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The risks increase exponentially if you smoke. Approximately 20, 000 deaths per year are caused by exposure. The EPA estimates of cancer deaths due to radon in drinking water, is much lower at 168 per year. Contaminated drinking water carries a higher risk of certain organ cancers such as stomach or kidney cancer.


Not all water sources are affected but private wells in New Hampshire and Massachusetts have shown to have more than their share of radon problems. Contamination is only a concern if you receive your drinking water from a private well. It’s important to understand that not all underground water sources contain radon! Currently, the EPA does not have a standard for safe or unsafe levels in drinking water. They have proposed to regulate drinking water from community suppliers that serve more than 25 people, but they do not regulate private wells. Testing is the responsibility of the homeowner. The EPA has proposed that community water suppliers keep levels below 4000pCi/L. At this level, that contributes about .4pCi/L to the air in a home.


If you receive your water from a private well the EPA suggests testing annually for various contaminants including radon to ensure safety and determine any contaminant levels in your drinking water. Like many well water contractors, Skillings and Sons works with various state-certified laboratories and can facilitate testing for your well. If testing shows your well to have high levels of radon in your drinking water supply and you’re concerned, there are affordable treatment options available. The most effective treatment is removal before the water enters your home. This is known as “point of entry” treatment.

There are two types of effective point of entry devices that can remove radon from well water.
• Granular Activated Carbon – GAC filters used activated carbon to remove the gas by running water through a series of filters. GAC is affordable and effective.
• Aeration Devices – Aeration systems bubble air through the water as it enters your home. The bubbles release the gas from within the water and an exhaust fan removes it out into the atmosphere before it enters your home.

While GAC filters cost less than Aeration systems, radioactivity does collect on the filter, which be hazardous and require special disposal methods.

Contact us If you’d like to learn more about mitigation techniques and costs. We’d be happy to outline your options and show you how Skilling and Sons can help you to improve the quality and safety of your family’s drinking water supply.