Naturally Occurring Radionuclides in Georgia Water Supplies: Implications for Community Water Systems
Albertson, Phillip N.
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Analytical results of water samples submitted to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division’s Drinking Water Compliance Program for naturally occurring radionuclides were used to delineate the spatial distribution of radionuclide detections in Georgia. In community water systems, elevated gross alpha particle activity, elevated radium-226, and elevated combined radium-226 and radium-228 activity have been detected in the Piedmont, Blue Ridge, and parts of the Coastal Plain physiographic provinces. Current maximum contaminant levels established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are 15 picocuries per liter for gross alpha particle activity and 5 picocuries per liter for combined radium-226/radium-228 activity. These standards were established to reduce the risk of cancer from drinking water containing radionuclides. Of all gross alpha particle activity results, 3.76 percent were above the maximum contaminant level. Of the 955 analytical results for combined radium-226/radium-228, nearly 50 percent were above 5 picocuries per liter. In Georgia, community water systems could be affected by implementation of new radionuclide regulations that will go into effect in December 2003. In addition to retaining the existing maximum contaminant levels for gross alpha particle activity and combined radium-226/radium-228, the new rule establishes a new uranium maximum contaminant level of 30 micrograms per liter to reduce the risk of cancer and kidney toxicity. Elevated uranium concentrations have been detected in drinking water in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge physiographic provinces. As a result of the new rule, some community water systems with elevated concentrations of natural radionuclides may be required to provide increased monitoring; others may have to implement treatment technologies to meet regulatory compliance.
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