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Radon in water

Radon can dissolve and accumulate in water in underground sources such as wells, springs and boreholes. When water containing radon is used for showering and cooking, the radon escapes from the water and goes into the air. Breathing in this radon could increase the risk of lung cancer over a lifetime. Water from the mains is not a concern as the radon is released before it arrives at the tap. For premises with private supplies however, radon can be released into the home. For further information see the Radon South West Committee radon in water fact sheet.

A study was commissioned by The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) into the levels of natural radiation occurring in private water supplies in West Devon.

The research, which was carried out in conjunction with environmental health officers from West Devon Borough Council, took 18 months to complete and involved testing the private water supplies at 116 different locations in West Devon.

Of the water supplies tested, eight per cent were found to have radon levels above the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) advisory level of 1000 becquerels/litre (Bq/l) and about seven per cent had levels of uranium higher than a World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline level of 2 micrograms/litre.

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