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U.S. EPA - Detection of Radioisotope Contamination in Drinking Water

U.S. EPA - Detection of Radioisotope Contamination in Drinking Water

Created: Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 14:00

This report presents data on detection of radionuclides in drinking water. Part I focuses on how water quality parameters (i.e. free chlorine, pH, etc) change when soluble surrogate radionuclide salts are introduced into drinking water. Cesium, cobalt and strontium chloride were injected into a pipe containing flowing tap water. An array of on-line sensors continuously monitored water quality in the pipe. Water quality changes caused by the salts were recorded. The results show that observing changes in water quality due to soluble radioisotope contamination is challenging. Part II presents data collected from an on-line sensor designed to detect radiation in water. The commercially available radiation detection system was challenged with a radionuclide (potassium-40) dissolved in water. The device did not detect the radioisotope solution at the Protective Action Guidelines (PAG) or Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) that were of interest. Furthermore, numerous operational and design issue were encountered that impair the usability of the device in the field.

The results presented in the two parts of this study show the effectiveness of detecting radionuclide contamination with on-line sensors using different detection principles. On-line sensors employing one or more parameters are used in drinking water distribution systems to monitor water quality. Exploring on-line sensors ability to detect contamination is important so they can be utilized beyond their traditional water quality monitoring role. In addition, on-line detection of radiation in water is desirable from the standpoint of contamination, but also to better quantify the amount of radiation in distributed water. The data presented in this report addresses both topics. Furthermore, these data shows where future work could be focused to improve online sensors detection technology for dissolved radionuclides.

This  document contains information that should not be released to the public,  the media, or other personnel who do not have a valid need to know the  information without explicit approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This document should be stored, handled, and disposed of securely. For questions regarding  the storage, handling, distribution, or disposal of this document,  please contact

Attached Files: 
PDF icon Detection of Radioisotopes.pdf