Natural Radionuclides in Private Wells
About 15 percent of Americans use private wells as their main source of drinking water. Those who use private
wells should remember:

   •   Test for radionuclides every three years.

   •   Take appropriate steps if radionuclide levels are higher than EPA's limits.

About Natural Radionuclides  in Private Wells

About 15 percent of Americans use private wells as their main source of drinking water. Unlike community
water systems, wells are usually not regulated or routinely inspected for radionuclides. As a result, well owners
are responsible for making sure their drinking water is safe and of good quality. Well water should be tested on
a regular schedule:

   •   Each year, test for contaminants such as bacteria and viruses.

   •   Every three years, test for radionuclides.

Test kits are available on the Internet and from some state drinking water offices. Contact information for state
drinking water offices usually can be found on the state's official website.

The radionuclides radium and uranium are minerals that are present
naturally in  most rocks and soils. Radium breaks down to form the
radioactive  gas, radon. All three of these radionuclides can dissolve in
water, which means they can be drawn into private well water. If the soil
and rocks surrounding a well have high enough concentrations, the well
water may contain levels that exceed EPA's standards. The likelihood
that groundwater in a certain area will contain  radionuclides depends on
soil and rock conditions in that area.
The entry of radon into homes directly from the soil is an additional
concern.  Homes can accumulate much higher and more dangerous
levels of radon gas when cracks in the foundation allow it to seep in.
Radon  comes from the natural decay of uranium and radium found in
nearly all rocks and soils. Radon moves up from the ground into buildings
through openings in floors or walls that are in contact with the ground.
Radon  can  accumulate in buildings over time and may pose a health
hazard. Any home or building may have high levels of radon, including
new and old homes,  well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or
without basements.  It's important to test the air in all homes and fix any
problems caused by  radon seeping in from the nearby soil.
Private well cap.
  United States Environmental Protection Agency |  Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6608T) | EPA 402-F-14-013 | August2014 |  p. 1

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Rules and Guidance

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)

Although EPA regulates public water systems, it does not regulate private drinking water wells. However, the
limits that EPA sets for public drinking water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act', can be used as
guidelines for drinking water wells.

THE STATES
Most states have set drinking water limits for radionuclides in community drinking water systems that are
based on EPA's limits. The states enforce those standards, and establish monitoring programs.  Some state
and local governments set rules to  protect people who use well water by setting limits on well water
contaminants.

What you can do

It's important to test both the air and well water in  your home for radionuclides, especially radon. Testing for
radon in the air of your home is easy and only takes a few minutes of your time. There are many kinds of low-
cost radon test kits available by phone, online and in many stores. If you prefer, you can hire a professional to
do the testing.  For more information about radon,  its risk and what you can do to protect yourself, visit EPA's
Radon webpage''.

Well water should be tested every three years. Kits for testing well water for radionuclides are available online,
in hardware stores and from many state governments. You can find contact information for your state's
radiation control program on the Conference of Radiation  Control  Program Directors (CRCPD) website'".

Treat your drinking well water if necessary. If your well water needs to be treated, there are several
organizations that can help you pick the best treatment:

   •   National Sanitation Foundation™

   •  Water Quality Association"

   •  The National Ground Water Association"'

Radionuclides can be removed from water by installing a treatment system at the tap. Systems that work at the
tap are called Point of Use (POU) systems. Several types of POU systems (filters) are available. Two types
that EPA has found to work well are ion exchange and reverse osmosis.

These filters can  collect enough radioactivity to be a health risk themselves. Often, they collect too much
radiation to be  disposed of with ordinary trash. The company that  installs the POU system or state radiation
and solid waste offices will be able  to help well owners with proper disposal guidelines.
           Remember: Testing is the only way to know if well water contains radionuclides.
           Contact your local or state radiation control office for testing and treatment information.
Where to learn more
You can learn more about radionuclides in private wells by visiting the resources available on the following
webpage: http://www.epa.gov/radtown/private-wells.htmltflearn-more.
 http://water.epa.gov/lawsreqs/rulesreqs/sdwa/index.cfm
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" http://www.epa.gov/radon/
"' http://www.crcpd.org/Map/default.aspx
iv http://www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/health-and-safetv-tips/water-guality-treatment-tips
v http://www.wga.org/
vi http://www.ngwa.org/Pages/default.aspx
   United States Environmental Protection Agency | Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6608T) | EPA 402-F-14-013 |  August2014 |  p. 3

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