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Is There Radon in Your Drinking Water?

Radon, a radioactive gas that cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. That's because breathing in radon from the air increases your risk of lung cancer, and, unbeknownst to many, one out of every 15 homes has elevated radon levels.

Radon in household water causes 30 to 1,800 deaths every year, according to the CDC.

But what is even lesser known is that radon can also be in your drinking water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that radon in household water causes 30 to 1,800 deaths per year.

When uranium in soil, rock and water breaks down radioactively, radon is produced. And because it's water-soluble, radon can accumulate in water as it runs over rocks and soil.

Two Routes of Exposure

You may be exposed to radon in your water via two routes. The first is by breathing in radon vapors from your water while doing everyday tasks such as showering and doing dishes and laundry.

Radon gas is easily released into the air when water is agitated, so even turning on a tap could release the toxic gas into your home's air if the concentrations are high enough. The radon in this form becomes part of the radon load in your home's air, and does most of its damage to your lungs.

The second way is through actually ingesting the radon in the water. Because radon does evaporate readily into the air, surface waters, such as those from lakes and rivers, are less likely to contain high levels of the substance.

However, groundwater, which is used in wells, has not been exposed to much air, and therefore may contain much higher levels of radon. Wells filled by ground water supply about half the drinking water in the United States.

Keep your family safe with the Radon-in-Water Easy Home Test

Radon's Toxic Effects

When radon is inhaled, radioactive particles get trapped in your lungs and break down further, releasing bursts of energy that can lead to cancer. However, the gas causes no immediate symptoms, so damage to lung tissue can occur over a long period of time, sometimes years, without the person knowing.

Radon that is ingested can diffuse into the stomach wall and damage cells. According to the CDC, "Drinking water contaminated by radon may increase your chances of developing stomach cancer." It may also increase the risk of other types of cancer over the course of a lifetime.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the CDC maintain that breathing in radon from the air represents a much greater health risk than radon in drinking water. However, experts say the potential harm from radon in water shouldn't be overlooked.

"In general, much more radon enters households through soil beneath the home than through water supplies," said John Doull, professor, department of pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutics, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City. "Radon in water does increase people's overall exposure to the gas, but radon in indoor air is the biggest public health threat. Nevertheless, the government and water suppliers should work together to develop strategies that limit potentially harmful amounts of radon in homes."

How to Find -- and Remove -- Radon in Your Drinking Water

Testing Your Home's Air for Radon is Simple:
Get Peace of Mind and Protect Your Family

One out of every 15 homes has elevated radon levels that are the #2 cause of lung cancer in the United States. The EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend that every home get tested below the third floor. Testing is the ONLY way to determine if radon is in your home because it can't be smelled, tasted or seen!

Testing your home's air for this poisonous gas is easy with the Short-Term Radon Testing Kit:

  • Incredibly Simple to Use

  • The U.S.'s top-rated & most trusted home kit

  • VERY economical--Just $9.95 each!

  • Contains everything for a 3-7 day radon test

  • Perform simple test and mail it in ... you'll then be able to access your home's results online!

Learn More and Order Your
Short-Term Radon Testing Kit Now!

Plus, see below to learn about detecting radon in
your water with the Radon-in-Water Easy Home Test

Because radon is tasteless, odorless and colorless, the only way to find out if high levels are in your water is with a water test. Fortunately, you can easily test your water with our top-recommended Radon-in-Water Test Kit. It includes everything you need to determine your drinking water's safety including:

  • EPA-approved lab analysis of your home's water for radon

  • Complete instructions for this easy-to-perform testing process

  • The glass sample collection vial (in bubble wrap packaging)

  • The faucet adapter/sampling hose

  • Preaddressed packaging for shipment of the sample to laboratory for analysis

All you need to do is collect the water and ship it, preferably the same day, to the laboratory for analysis. This test is especially important for those who get their water from a well.

In the event you find elevated levels, the CDC reports that radon can be removed from water by using one of two methods:

  • Aeration treatment: Spraying water or mixing it with air and then venting the air from the water before use.

  • GAC treatment: Filtering water through carbon; the radon attaches to the carbon and leaves the water free of radon. (The disposal of the carbon may require special handling.)

It's important to note that to adequately remove radon, the water must be treated where it enters your home. Attaching a filter on your tap or under your sink will only treat a small portion of your water.

If you would like to know more about radon in your home's air or drinking water, please see our Radon Frequently Asked Questions Page

Recommended Reading

Radon's Real Risk: 1 in 15 Homes Polluted with this #2 Cause of Lung Cancer, but Most Don't Know It!

Radon Essentials: What You Need to Know About Radon


Risk Assessment of Radon in Drinking Water

CDC: Radon and Drinking Water From Private Wells

Radon in Drinking Water

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