Radium Quick Facts
- Radium has many isotopes (different forms) most have half-lives of milliseconds to minutes
- Radium 226 isotope has a half-life of 1,600 years.
- Radium 226 is an alpha, beta and gamma emitter (4)
- Radium decays into the radioactive gas Radon 222
- Radium is water soluble.
- Radium in the soil may be taken in by plants. It can also build up in fish and other forms of life
found in water.(3)
- Safe drinking water limit is 5 pCi/L.
- Background level is 1 pCi/L.
- Radium is a breakdown product of the radioactive decay of Uranium and Thorium. (4)
- Radium attaches to bone in humans and other animals.
- Radium does leave the body slowly.(3)
- Radium exposure can cause leukemia, bone and other cancers.
- Radium is NOT tested for by municipal water suppliers and (if present) is not removed by standard treatment.
- Radium can be removed from drinking water by cation exchange or reverse osmosis.(4)
- Radioactivity in oil and gas wastewaters has been found to exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water limits by up to 3,600 times, exceeding federal industrial discharge
limits set by the Nuclear Regulatory Agency by more than 300 times
- Radium from drilling mud that is spread/spilled at the surface can become airborne and inhaled.
(1) The element Radium
(2) Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Radium-226
(3) Radium FAQ -
Delaware Health and Social Service
(4) Radium Fact Sheet Water Quality Association
Some states allow using the brine from gas and oil wells to be spread on roads for deicing. The brine contains radionuclides like radium.
- Water Monitoring
- Orphan Well Project
- Oil & Gas Issues