How To Remove Radon From Water: 3 Effective Methods

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Radon is one of the most dangerous drinking water contaminants because of its ability to contaminate the air inside your home.

In this guide, we’ve shared everything you need to know about how to remove radon from water with our top 3 recommended methods.

๐Ÿ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • Radon is a radioactive gas that dissolves in water and may be released into the air in your home if it’s present in your drinking water supply.
  • The best ways to remove radon from water are with granular activated carbon, aeration and in many cases water distilling.
  • To prevent radon from entering your home’s indoor air, choose a system that’s installed at water’s point of entry into your home.

๐Ÿค” What Is Radon & Where Does It Come From?

Radon is a radioactive gas that’s found naturally in rocks and soils in the ground.

Ground water supplies are most likely to contain radon because radon gases dissolve into the water in underground aquifers. Unlike surface water supplies, these gases can’t be easily released into the air.

Radon in the water has no taste, smell, or odor, so the only way to detect it is with a radon test.

Not all drinking water is at risk of radon contamination, but if you’re concerned about this contaminant, test your water as soon as possible.

How Does Radon Get Into Well Water

๐Ÿฉบ Potential Health Effects of Radon

The most dangerous and likely potential health effect of radon exposure is lung cancer.

Radon has been linked to thousands of lung cancer deaths per year, and is also known to cause other internal organ cancers, including stomach cancer.

Despite radon’s known health effects, the EPA doesn’t currently have a maximum radon concentration for radon (although an MCL of 4,000 pCi/L was proposed in the 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act).

Your local state might have an enhanced indoor air program for airborne radon, and community water systems should take the appropriate action to reduce radon in the water used for public drinking.

If you want to learn more about radon and its health effects, including how to know if your water contains radon, check out our radon in drinking water guide.

๐Ÿงช How To Test For Radon In Water

Our top recommended method of testing for radon in water is to use a laboratory water test.

There are tens of certified laboratories in the US that provide accurate water tests for radon on its own, or for radionuclides (including radon) or a selection of common well water contaminants (including radon).

To use a laboratory water test to detect radon, follow these steps:

  1. Buy the test and wait for the equipment to be shipped to your home.
  2. Take a couple of samples of water in the included vials, then post the samples to the laboratory to be analyzed.
  3. Wait for 1-2 weeks for the water to be tested.
  4. Read through your test results (usually delivered by email) and determine whether you should take action based on the detected radon levels.

Keep in mind that dissolved radon gas isn’t only released into the air from your drinking water supply.

Indoor air may also have high levels of radon due to radon gas getting into your home via cracks and small holes.

For that reason, we recommend also looking into a radon air testing kit. This method of radon testing will tell you for certain whether or not your indoor air contains radon, regardless of whether radon is present in your drinking water.

Taking a water sample from tap

โœ… How to Remove Radon from Drinking Water

There are three water treatment methods that we feel are best for removing radon from drinking water.

Granular Activated Carbon Filters

Granular activated carbon filters (GAC) pull radon particles out of the water using a process like adsorption.

Imagine placing a sponge in water. The sponge will gradually pick up the water molecules – just as an activated carbon filter gradually adsorbs contaminants as water flows through the filter media.

Once trapped, the radon particles are unable to re-enter your water supply.

There are a few different configurations of GAC filters, including water filter pitchers and under-sink filters.

However, we recommend a POE (point-of-entry) GAC filter installed upstream of your hot water heater, which will reduce your water’s radon levels before it enters your home. This means you’ll have more guaranteed protection against radon gases in your indoor air.

Plus, large POE GAC filters have a much larger surface area, so don’t get clogged as rapidly and last longer, so they’re easier to maintain.

A point-of-entry GAC filter is the ideal solution if you want to avoid radon exposure in the water you drink – and the water you shower in, wash your dishes and clothes in, and use in all appliances and fixtures in your home.

There are two common GAC filter types for whole home use:

  • Tank-based GAC filters ($650-$1,250) – These use a large tank pre-loaded with GAC media, and they keep the media fresh with regular backwashing. Tank-based GAC filters are the best choice for people who want to keep maintenance to a minimum because their media lasts longer due to the regular backwashing.
  • Cartridge-based GAC filters ($300-$750) – These use one or several filter cartridges, with one cartridge or more containing GAC media. Once the media is saturated with contaminants, the cartridge must be changed. Cartridge-based GAC filters are better for people with smaller budgets who prefer to spend less money upfront on a system that needs more frequent maintenance.

Pros of GAC filter for radon removal:

  • It’s an affordable method. GAC filters are cheaper than other water treatment systems for reducing radon levels.
  • It’s natural and safe. This type of radon gas mitigation system doesn’t add any chemicals or other harsh contaminants to your water.
  • It requires minimal maintenance. You just need to replace the filter every few months or years media according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cons of GAC filter for radon removal:

  • It needs to be safely disposed of. Once the GAC media is saturated with contaminants, you’ll need to determine a safe way to dispose of it that won’t release radon gas back into the environment.
  • It’ll become a source of high radon concentrations. You might be concerned about allowing radon to build up to high concentrations inside the filter media.
Priming a black berkey filter element

Aeration Units

Aeration is another type of POE (point-of-entry) water system that’s effective in removing radon from water.

We recommend aeration units in homes that have high radon levels because this water treatment method is the most effective and offers the most guaranteed radon reduction.

An aeration system causes radon gases to break down by sending air bubbles through the water. These particles can then be transported out of the water and blown away with a fan.

There are a few different aeration treatment units, but they all have the same purpose: to cause the radon gas to escape by agitating the water.

The spray aeration unit is one of the most common aeration system types. This type of radon mitigation system uses a nozzle to spray the contaminated water into a tank. These sprayed water droplets have an increased surface area, which causes radon to be released and carried out of the tank via a vent leading outside your home.

Like a GAC filter, an aeration system is a point of entry unit, meaning that radon in the water should be significantly reduced before the water even enters your home.

So, as with a GAC filter, all the water that you use in your home should be virtually radon-free, reducing the risk of breathing radon in your indoor air.

The typical cost of a POE aeration system is $4,500.

Pros of aeration for radon removal:

  • It’s highly effective. Aeration treatment units offer the most effective method of reducing dissolved radon levels, eliminating up to 99% of this radioactive gas.
  • It doesn’t cause radon to accumulate. Radon is vented out of an aeration system at a constant rate, so radioactive particles never build up inside the unit.
  • You don’t have to worry about radon disposal. Aeration units don’t contain filter media, so you never need to dispose of a filter that has a high radon concentration.

Cons of aeration for radon removal:

  • It’s more expensive. This method of radon treatment is more expensive than any other because the system is complex and additional installation processes are needed (such as vent installation).
  • It’s affected by your water quality. High concentrations of manganese or iron in your water will reduce the effectiveness of this treatment method.

Water Distillation

Water distillation takes place in a water distiller. This type of water treatment system boils water, then condenses the water vapor into a separate container. This is for POU (point-of-use) and you need to check with manufacturer to verify that radon is addressed through the unit you are looking at.

Most contaminants are unable to evaporate and condense with water, so they’re left behind in the boiling chamber.

A water distiller is a countertop unit that distills batches of water at a time. The clean, distilled water can be used for drinking, filling irons and steamers, and adding to fish tanks and car cooling systems.

Pros of water distillation for radon removal:

  • It doesn’t add anything to your water. Distillation uses the natural process of heating and cooling to purify your water.
  • Maintenance is minimal. There’s only one carbon post-filter to replace (if you choose to use it). Otherwise, you’ll just need to keep the boiling chamber clean.
  • It removes hundreds of other contaminants. Distillation produces purified water that’s free from virtually all other drinking water contaminants.

Cons of water distillation for radon removal:

  • It’s not an instant treatment method. Water distillation takes hours. A 1-gallon batch of distilled water takes about 5 hours to produce.
  • It’s not an effective POE solution. Water distillers are only sold as point-of-use units for residential use. See more in the below paragraphs.

An important note about water distillation: Most water distillers are installed as countertop units and are designed to distill water from your kitchen faucet.

We’ve included water distillers in this list because they do effectively remove radon, however, we DON’T recommend them in most situations because they’re not installed at your main water pipe’s POE, which means they don’t prevent radon gas from entering your home’s indoor air from your shower heads and faucets.

A distiller is only a good option if you want to remove radon from a water source that has been collected outside your home or you only have trace levels of radon in your water.

Filling the imber isla water distiller

๐Ÿฅ‡ Which Water Filters Are Best For Radon Removal?

The best types of water filters for radon mitigation are systems that can treat water containing radon before it enters your home.

That means you can effectively protect your family from breathing radon gas in your indoor air, because radon doesn’t even have a chance to get into your home via your water supply.

You can buy granular activated carbon filters and aeration units for point-of-entry filtration, so we recommend these water treatment systems above any other system (including a water distiller) for that reason.

There are a couple of other things you should consider when deciding on the best water filter for radon removal:

  • Your upfront and long-term budget
  • Your installation and maintenance preferences

Since radon is such a dangerous gas, it’s best to invest in a system sold by a reputable brand that offers guaranteed radon removal. The extra upfront cost is worth it for the reassurance of radon-free drinking water and clean, safe indoor air.

Remember to check customer feedback and professional reviews before you spend your money. Reviews from experts and users like you can give you all the information you need to know about how a product lives up to real-life expectations.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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