This is the 5th installment of the Natural Radiation Prevention series. Our previous articles discussed about radioactive iodine and other important radioactive elements, such as strontium, cesium, and plutonium that impact our health. Today I will talk about the radiation fallouts in the drinking water and what to do to get rid of them.
Before you read the contents of this article, please take note that the information provided herein has not been approved by FDA and it is for education purpose only. It is not intended to replace professional medical advice, which we recommend, if and when you suspect you may have been in contact with any type of radioactivity. Please read our full disclaimer statement at the bottom of this web-page.
Despite the fact that there is no present danger of radioactive fallout water contamination anywhere in the United States coming from the on-going Japan nuclear crisis, it should be noted that many water supplies in the United States are already contaminated by naturally occurring radioactivity including: uranium, strontium, radium 226, 228, alpha and beta particles. The levels of these radioactive contaminants are usually below the Maximum Concentration Level allowed by the government, but long-term ingestion, even at low levels, may not be safe.
Some regions of the U.S. have higher amounts of naturally occurring radioactivity and are designated Radon Zones by the EPA. Radon is a gaseous by-product of radioactive decay and is a known carcinogen causing increased rates of lung cancer.
BEST SOURCES OF WATER IN FALLOUT AREAS
In case of a nuclear event one should realize that neither fallout particles nor dissolved radioactive elements or radionuclide compounds can be removed from water by chemical disinfection or boiling. Therefore, water should be obtained from the least radioactive sources available. Below gives a list of the common sources of water, with the safest source listed first then the other sources listed in a decreasing order of safety.
1. Water from deep wells and from water tanks and covered reservoirs into which no fallout particles or fallout-contaminated water has been introduced. (Caution: although most spring water would be safe, some spring water is surface water that has flowed into and through underground channels without having been filtered.).
2. Water from covered seepage pits or shallow, hand-dug wells. This water is usually safe if fallout or fallout-contaminated surface water has been prevented from entering by the use of waterproof coverings. If the earth is not sandy, gravelly, or too porous, filtration through earth is very effective.
3. Contaminated water from deep lakes. Water from a deep lake would be much less contaminated by dissolved radioactive material and fallout particles than water from a shallow pond, if both had the same amount of fallout per square foot of surface area deposited in them. Furthermore, fallout particles settle to the bottom more rapidly in deep lakes than in shallow ponds, which are agitated more by wind.
4. Contaminated water from shallow ponds and other shallow, still water.
5. Contaminated water from streams, which would be especially dangerous if the stream is muddy from the first heavy rains after fallout is deposited. The first runoff will contain most of the radioactive material that can be dissolved from fallout particles deposited on the drainage area. Runoff after the first few heavy rains following the deposit of fallout is not likely to contain much dissolved radioactive material.
6. Water collected from fallout-contaminated roofs. This would contain more fallout particles than would the runoff from the ground.
7. Water obtained by melting snow that has fallen through air containing fallout particles, or from snow lying on the ground onto which fallout has fallen. Avoid using such water for drinking or cooking.
Best Purification Methods For Radioactive Fallout Water
There are many ways to removing fallout contaminants from water, we will start with the most simplistic version and progress towards the state-of-the-art technology of the day in the following paragraphs.
Since water itself cannot become radioactive and fallout radionuclide particles are heavier than most water matters, fallout material tends to settle to the bottom of lakes or reservoirs. Settling thus becomes one of the simplest and effective way of separating the radioactive contaminants from the pure water itself. Make sure that the container which you are working with is deep. Use pulverized clay or soil and stir it into the contaminated water container. Stir or shake the fine clay or soil with the fallout water and then let the clay settle for at least 6 hours. The settling soil will carry most of the suspended fallout particles to the bottom and cover them there. Finally, carefully dip out the clear water portion and make sure you disinfect the water first before drinking.
Filtering through earth is an effective way of removing essentially all of the fallout particles. More of the dissolved radioactive material are removed through this simple method than does boiling-water distillation, a generally impractical purification method that does not eliminate dangerous radioactive iodines. Earth filters are also more effective in removing radioactive iodines than are ordinary ion-exchange water softeners or charcoal filters. In areas of heavy fallout, about 99% of the radioactivity in water could be removed by filtering it through ordinary earth.
According to the EPA, the following treatment methods have proven to be effective in removing radionuclides at levels below their Maximum Concentration Levels:
- Beta particle and Photon Radiation: ion exchange and reverse osmosis;
- Alpha Emitters: reverse osmosis;
- Radium 226 and Radium 228 (Combined): ion exchange, reverse osmosis, lime softening;
- Uranium: Ion exchange, reverse osmosis, lime softening, coagulation/filtration.
Although the above list does not cover the iodine, cesium, strontium, nor the plutonium isotopes, but considering they are all heavier radionuclides much like those listed above, the Reverse Osmosis appears to be the most effective and safe method of choice for any type of radioactive fallout water decontamination.
I have a friend who is currently living in Tokyo with his family uses a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system to purify all of their drinking water now as they have themselves been warned that their drinking tap water has exceeded the infant safety level from time to time. RO is their system of choice for water purification at this point.
Reverse Osmosis is a water purification technology that uses a nano-size semi-permeable membrane that allows only pure water, oxygen and a very little amount of minerals to pass through, while sending everything else down the drain. This technology has been proven to purify the seawater into drinking water. It removes excess chlorine and assists in removing chloramines. The Polyamide (PA) reverse osmosis membrane effectively reduces total dissolved solids, including fluoride, lead and cadmium and also the radionuclides per EPA info cited above.
So, there you have it, various different water purification methods to protect your drinking water from radioactive contaminants have been presented. Even though Reverse Osmosis maybe the easiest to get and hook up to your tap water source, it has its limitations. In our next blog, I will discuss the health disadvantages of drinking RO water longterm and how the latest water purification technology using bio-ceramic mineral stones has to offer that is even better for our health than the RO itself.
If you are interested in this subject, I invite you to join us for a FREE water demo class at our store on the 14th of April, 6:30pm. We will compare the tap, well, bottle, RO, and alkaline water sources and their impact on our health. You are most welcome to bring your own source(s) of drinking water to the class for our comparison study. Feel free to call us in advance if interested as seating is limited!