Radium (Rn) is a radioactive chemical element which can be found in very small amounts in pitchblende and other uranium minerals. It is used in the treatment of cancer and some skin diseases. Radium 226 and radium 228 are of most concern when found in drinking water because of the effects on the health of individuals. Radium 228 causes bone sarcomas. Radium 226 induces carcinomas in the head. Radioactivity in water can be naturally occurring or can be from man-made contamination. Radiation is generally in curies (Ci). One curie equals 3.7~x 1010 nuclear transformations per second. A picocurie (pCi) equals 10.12 curies. The US EPA has set the MCL (maximum contamination level) for radium 226 and 228 at 5 pCi/L under the NIPDWR (national interim primary drinking water regulations).
Radium can be removed by sodium for cation exchange resin in the form of a water softener. Reverse osmosis will remove 95 – 98% of any radioactivity in the drinking water.
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