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Georgia: Uranium and Radon in Household Waters

Testing, Mapping, Public Education and Mitigationof Uranium and Radon in Household Waters in Georgia

Edited and reprinted with permission of the author

At the 2016 International Radon Symposium held in San Diego, California, September 18-21, the principal author, Dr. Uttam Saha, of the University of Georgia, presented a paper on various issues regarding uranium and radon in household waters in Georgia. The full paper passed through the peer review process and has been published in the symposium proceedings. The paper is an outcome of the collaboration between The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and The Laboratory of Inorganic & Nuclear Chemistry, New York State Department of Health.

The paper highlighted the Georgia testing, mapping, public education and mitigation of uranium and radon. The highlights, objectives, principal findings of the paper and comments on potential areas in Georgia that merit testing and the programs for uranium and radon in household wells were presented in the paper.

Highlights

The Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories (AESL) and The College of Family and Consumer Sciences of the University of Georgia launched a new Radon in Household Water Testing and Education program in August 2015. Developing proper sampling analytical methods for “Testing Radon in Water” was considered an important research task, yet to be accomplished by the scientists. Various empirical methods of sampling, sample preparation, and counting assays on a liquid scintillation counter are practiced by different laboratories testing radon in water across the United States. As result, different laboratories can produce different radon in water results from the same sample. Therefore, there was a great need to optimize these conditions.

Objectives

The objective of the study was to compare various methods of sampling, sample preparation, and liquid scintillation counting assays on the recovery of radon from:

  1. two “Radon in Water” standard samples; and
  2. a few household well water samples from Georgia.

Principal Findings

  • Direct-Fill Method of water sampling is susceptible to significant loss of radon gas, so Bowl Method or Submerged Bottle Method is better.
  • The 130-700 keV Assay, that brackets the Region of Interest (ROI) of radon, is better than the Full Spectrum Assay covering 0 to 2000 keV.
  • Air Bubble in the water samples results in significant loss of radon gas, such loss becomes greater as the size of the air bubbles becomes larger.
  • Mineral Oil generally gives higher radon counts than Opti-Fluor. But the results of Two Standard Samples suggested that Mineral Oil clearly over estimates the actual radon concentration whereas Opti-Fluor always gave the results close to the true value. As a scintillator for radon in water, it is widely believed that mineral oil is a better than opti-fluor. But the results of this paper showed that the opposite is indeed true.

Potential Areas in Georgia that Merit Testing
This paper also shed lights on the potential areas and associated geology that merits testing of uranium and radon in the household wells in Georgia.

Programs for Uranium and Radon in Household Well Waters

The UGA’s current and past (since 2010) monitoring, mapping, public education, and mitigation programs for uranium and radon in household well waters were also included in the presentation.

Authors of the Paper

  • Uttam Saha, Public Service Associate & Program Coordinator, Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
  • Leticia Sonon, Senior Public Service Associate & Director, Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
  • Michael Kitto, Research Scientist V, Laboratory of Inorganic & Nuclear Chemistry, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY.
  • Pamela R. Turner, Associate Professor & Extension Housing Specialist, Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
  • Dana Lynch, Public Service Assistant and Family & Consumer Science Extension Agent, Monroe County, The University of Georgia, Forsyth, GA
  • Gabrielle Walters, Radon Educator, Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA

More Information
For more information, see the entire paper at http://aarst-nrpp.com/proceedings/2016/Saha_TESTING_MAPPING_PUBLIC_EDUCATION_AND_MITIGATION_OF_TESTING_Of_Uranium_and_radon_in_household_waters_in_georgia.pdf

or contact:

Uttam Kumar Saha, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator
Feed and Environmental Water Laboratory
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
2300 College Station Road, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Tel: +1-706-542-7690; Fax: +1-706-542-1494
E-mail: sahau@uga.edu
http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/
and
Chair, Drinking Water and Human Health Community of Practice
National eXtension
http://www.extension.org/