Answer to Question #10627 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Environmental and Background Radiation — Water

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

I live in Connecticut and the uranium level in my well water is 327 ppb (parts per billion). Should I assume that I have elevated levels of radium-226 and radium-228 as well? Are the levels proportional to each other or would the uranium level be higher?
Although radium-226 is a decay product of uranium-238 and is in radioactive equilibrium with uranium-238 in most earthen materials, it is not well correlated in groundwater due to differing chemical properties. So you should not assume that the radium in your well water is high. However, since the uranium in your water is more than 10 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency limit of 30 micrograms per liter, you should have the water checked for radium.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health maintains a list of approved commercial environmental laboratories that can test your well water. This same organization also offers fact sheets on uranium and radium in well water.

Tom Gesell, PhD
Answer posted on 3 April 2013. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.