Time variation of radon in tap water in locations of a Greek area with geological background for elevated radon-in-water concentrations and correlation study between radon, gross alpha, uranium, and radium concentrations
Background: Radon (222Rn), a naturally occurring radioactive gas, dissolves in water, and it can be found in elevated concentrations in public water supplies when water originates from ground sources in areas rich in uranium. An area of great interest for measuring radon-in-water is the Migdonia basin in Northern Greece due to its geological background and because all of its villages are supplied with water from boreholes.
Objectives: The main aim of this paper was to study the time variation of radon in tap water activity concentration in nine villages of the Migdonia basin supplied with water from boreholes and to determine factors that may affect it. Radon in water correlation between the source (borehole) and the consumption point (tap) was studied for some villages. Also, the correlation among radon, gross alpha, beta, uranium (238U), and radium (226Ra) activity concentration in water was studied.
Design and methods: Water samples were collected and measured for their radon activity concentration from 66 villages in the Migdonia basin in order to find places with relatively high radon concentrations. The time variation of radon-in-water was studied for villages that showed relatively high radon concentrations for 3–4 years (2018–2022). All samples were measured for their 222Rn activity concentration using gamma-ray spectrometry. Water samples were also analyzed for their gross alpha, beta, and uranium isotopes activity concentration.
Results and conclusions: Average radon in tap water activity concentrations measured in the area ranged from background concentrations to 185 Bq L-1. The corresponding annual effective doses from waterborne radon inhalation using both UNSCEAR and ICRP dose conversion factors ranged from 0.01 to 0.466 mSv y-1 and from 0.02 to 0.868 mSv y-1, respectively, while radon ingestion annual effective doses varied from 0.007 to 0.324 mSv y-1. Time variation of radon activity concentration in tap water for villages supplied from one borehole or a constant number of boreholes showed relatively low standard deviations (<24%) at a coverage factor of k = 1. Those deviations are probably caused by the time variation of boreholes’ radon concentration and water demand changes. A significant decline in radon concentration from the source (borehole) to the consumption point (tap water) was observed. Therefore, sampling should be performed at the consumption point. However, knowing the supplying borehole concentration is useful as it determines the potential for radon in drinking water. No apparent correlation was found among radon, gross alpha, beta, uranium, and radium concentrations in water. However, in some cases, remedial actions (withdrawal of boreholes) for uranium concentration also decreased radon concentration.