Radon Estimation in Water

The increased awareness of Radon 222 as a significant potential threat to public health has made it necessary to further investigate and expand our understanding of radon in natural water. It is an invisible gas that is both odourless and tasteless and results from the decay of Uranium 234 that decays over time into Radon 222. Furthermore, radon in water is a risk to health via two pathways: the inhalation of radon that has been liberated from water to the air inside homes and ingestion of radon in drinking water. As such, this experiment was conducted with the purpose of assessing radon concentrations in different sources of water using the LR-115 II Solid-State Nuclear Track Detector technique to estimate the radiation dose. This method is durable and simple due to the detector’s quick response and is convenient for observing and measuring radon as the detectors are solely used to detect alpha decay from radon. Radon concentrations were tested by collecting water from 3 different sources (well, ocean, and swamp) and isolating the samples for 71 days in airtight containers with an LR-115 II detector placed in each container. After the exposure time, the track detectors were removed and etched in 2.5N NaOH solution to make the tracks more visible. Track density (no. of tracks/cm2) was then determined using a microscope. The track count was converted into a radon concentration level in Bq/m3 using the formula, CRn=ρ(no. of tracks/cm2)no. of daysK(calibration factor = 0.033). The radon concentrations obtained from this experiment were 878 Bq/m3 in the well water, 1263 Bq/m3 in the swamp water, and 1759 Bq/m3 in the ocean water. The well water is within safe limits of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 1100 Bq/m3 standard guideline of radon levels in drinking water, while the other sources are not. These high radon concentrations pose a potential health risk to the population living in the area under investigation via inhalation or ingestion. A limitation to the accuracy of the results is the different irradiation geometries of the alpha particles coming from the progeny of radon in the air within the containers. This affects the track density, as all alpha particles may not have been etched onto the detector. Also, the small appearance of the tracks may have caused counting errors. For these limitations, statistical counting errors were calculated. Overall, the project data can be correlated to the safety of the studied environs in relation to public health.

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