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 Table of Contents 
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 65-70  

Analysis of radon concentration in drinking water in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan, India


1 Department of Applied Sciences, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, Punjab, India
2 Department of Physics, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, Punjab, India
3 Department of Applied Sciences, Ferozpur College of Engineering and Technology, Ferozshah, Ferozpur, Punjab, India

Date of Web Publication14-Mar-2014

Correspondence Address:
Vikas Duggal
H. No. 28464, Street No. 3A, Surkhpeer Road, S.A.S. Nagar, Bathinda - 151001, Punjab
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-0464.128870

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  Abstract 

Radon levels were measured in drinking water samples collected from Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan, India. The measurements were performed by RAD7 an electronic radon detector manufactured by Durridge Company Inc. The radon concentration in these samples is found to vary from (1.6 ± 0.6) to (5.4 ± 0.7) Bq/l with a mean value of (3.3 ± 1.1) Bq/l. These recorded values are compared with the safe limit values recommended for drinking water by various health and environmental protection agencies. The recorded values of radon concentration are within the safe limit of 11 Bq/l recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The annual effective dose for ingestion and inhalation is also evaluated in this research. The estimated total effective dose varies from 4.29 to 14.47 μSv/year. The total effective dose in all locations of the studied area is found to be within the safe limit (0.1 mSv/year) recommended by World Health Organization and European Council.

Keywords: Drinking water, effective dose, lungs, RAD7, radon


How to cite this article:
Duggal V, Mehra R, Rani A. Analysis of radon concentration in drinking water in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan, India. Radiat Prot Environ 2013;36:65-70

How to cite this URL:
Duggal V, Mehra R, Rani A. Analysis of radon concentration in drinking water in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan, India. Radiat Prot Environ [serial online] 2013 [cited 2019 Nov 22];36:65-70. Available from: http://www.rpe.org.in/text.asp?2013/36/2/65/128870


  Introduction Top


Radon gas and its radioactive isotopes have special attention among all other naturally occurring radioactive minerals, because it has the largest amount of total annual effective dose to humans. [1] The most important aspect of radon in high concentrations can be health hazards for human mainly a cause of lung cancer. [2],[3],[4] However, a very high level of radon in drinking water can also lead to a significant risk of the stomach and gastrointestinal cancer. [5],[6] Knowledge of the levels of radon in each source including household water, particularly water from ground sources is necessary to protect public from consequences of excessive exposure to radiations mainly from the risk of lung cancer. Radon was measured in water in many parts of the world, mostly for assessing the risk due to consumption of drinking water. [7],[8],[9],[10],[11]

Most of the radon that enters a building comes directly from soil that is in contact with or beneath the basement or foundation. Radon is also found in groundwater and will enter a home whenever this water is used. In many situations such as showering, washing clothes and flushing toilets, radon is released from the water and mixes with the indoor air. Thus, radon from water contributes to the total inhalation risk associated with radon in indoor air. In addition to this, drinking water contains dissolved radon and the radiation emitted by radon and its radioactive decay products is exposed to sensitive cells in the stomach as well as other organs once it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Approximately half of the drinking water in the India comes from groundwater. The underground water often moves through rock containing natural uranium and the radon gas gets solubilized in the water. The groundwater has normally much higher concentrations of radon than surface water such as lakes and streams.

Even though radon is often being discussed as a threat to human health, it shall also be mentioned here that it can be used as ideal tracer for a considerable variety of applications in the fields of environmental geology and hydrogeology. For instance the noble gas radon has a strong affinity to non-aqueous phase-liquids (NAPLs). This property makes it applicable as naturally occurring partitioning tracer for assessing residual NAPL contamination of aquifers. [12] Due to the distinct water/air partitioning behavior of radon and due to its straightforward on-site detectability, the radon distribution pattern in the groundwater can be used as an appropriate measure for assessing the progression of an in situ air sparging (IAS) measure as a function of space and time. [13]

High uranium content was reported in groundwater in Northern Rajasthan by our group. [14] Hence, it was reasonable to design a study in order to investigate the radon levels in the groundwater being used for drinking. Our group earlier reports the radon concentration in groundwater in the small region of Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan. [7] Now the purpose of this study is to detail investigate the radon levels of groundwater being used for drinking and to determine the health hazards, if any, to the population groups belonging to the Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan state, India. In this study, the villages/towns are selected in such a manner that the whole district has been covered.

Geology of area

The district is situated in the northern most region of the state and forms a part of Indo-Gangatic plain. [Figure 1] shows the geographic location of the state of Rajasthan in India, as well as the location of the sampling sites in Hanumangarh district. It has a geographical area of 12,645 km 2 . The population of Hanumangarh district is approximately 18 lakh. It is bounded on the north by Punjab state, on the east by Haryana state, on the south by Churu district of Rajasthan, on the west by Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. The climate of the district is marked by the large variation of temperature, extreme dryness and scanty rainfall. Minimum and maximum temperature is 1°C and 45°C respectively, whereas the mean temperature remained 23°C. The normal annual rainfall of the district is 253 mm. Residents of these areas are poor, mostly illiterate farmers, who use the groundwater for irrigation and for domestic consumption without prior treatment. [15] The area is covered by windblown sands and alluvium excepts for a few patches of recent calcerous and sandy sediments associated with gypsite. The oldest rocks of the area belong to Aravalli Super Groups which includes phyllite, shale and quartz veins, which are overlain by the rocks of the upper Vindhyan which are entirely made up bright to pale red fine and medium grained compact sand stone and siltstone. The only major mineral occurrence of the district is gypsite. The whole district is plain. Its shows a general slope toward north, generally the sand dunes are 4-5 m high except in the south western part, where they are more intensely developed, being sometimes 10-15 m high. No important hill exists in the district. The height of the district varies between 168 and 227 m above the mean sea level. The Ghaggar River is an ephemeral one and has north-east to south-west course near Hanumangarh.
Figure 1: Map of Rajasthan showing the area surveyed during the present investigations

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The soil of the Hanumangarh district is yellowish brown in color, loam to silty loam with massive or blocky structure and are calcareous in nature stratification is common in these soils. Soils vary in their characteristics at very short distance. At many places, they are intermixed with sandy material.


  Materials and Methods Top


Sample collection and analysis for 222 Rn activity

A total of 32 water samples from hand pumps were collected and analyzed for radon concentration. Eight villages/towns were selected from the district in such a manner that the whole district has been covered. Four water samples were taken from each village and analyzed for radon concentration. Groundwater is used by the residents for domestic consumption without prior treatment. The RAD7 radon detector manufactured by Durridge Company Inc. has been used for radon concentration measurement in the water samples. The equipment is portable and battery operated and the measurement is fast. [Figure 2] shows the schematic diagram of RAD7 H 2 O assembly. The water samples were taken in 250-ml vials designed for the RAD7 device and provided by the manufacturer. Water samples from hand pumps were measured for radon during the month of September to October 2012 and the weather conditions during the sampling period were fairly stable. The hand pumps from where the sample collection was done were in proper working condition. The system was pumped for 5-10 min before the sample was taken. Water sampling is complicated for the fact that the gas easily escapes from water, and therefore has to be done without any aeration, which might lead to outgassing. Hence the water samples should be collected in such a way that there should be no bubbling. In the present research, as a sample was collected, it was analyzed immediately on the entire sampling site. The time difference between taking the sample and analyzing it was few minutes and hence no decay of radon in the water occurred. For accurate readings, the RAD7 has been dried out thoroughly to reduce the relative humidity below 10% before making each measurement.
Figure 2: The schematic diagram of RAD7 H2O assembly

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The RAD7 H 2 O is an accessory to RAD7 that enables measurement of radon in water over a concentration range from < 0.37 Bq/l to > 0.15 × 10 5 Bq/l. The operation of this instrument is based on the following principle: (i) radon is expelled from water sample by using a bubbling kit, (ii) expelled radon enters a hemisphere chamber by air circulation, (iii) polonium decayed from radon is collected onto a silicon solid state detector by an electric field, (iv) radon concentration is estimated from the count rate of polonium. RAD H 2 O gives results after a 30 min analysis with a sensitivity that matches or exceeds that of liquid scintillation methods. The RAD H 2 O method employs a closed loop aeration scheme whereby the air volume and water volume are constant and independent of the flow rate. The air recirculates through the water and continuously extracts the radon until a state of equilibrium develops. The RAD H 2 O system reaches this state of equilibrium within about 5 min, after which no more radon can be extracted from the water.

The extraction efficiency or percentage of radon removed from the water to the air loop is very high about 94% for a 250 ml sample. The exact value of the extraction efficiency depends somewhat on ambient temperature, but it is almost always well above 90%. The RAD7 detector converts alpha radiation directly to an electric signal. The RAD7 has the ability to tell the difference between the new radon daughters and the old radon daughters left from previous tests. [16]

Evaluation of mean annual effective dose

Radon enters human body through ingestion and through inhalation as radon is released from water to indoor air. Therefore, radon in water is a source of radiation dose to stomach and lungs. The annual effective dose for ingestion and inhalation were calculated according to parameters introduced by United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) report. [17]

For ingestion, the following parameters were used:

  • The effective dose coefficient from ingestion equals 3.5 nSv/Bq; [17]
  • Annual intakes by infants, children and adults are estimated to be about 100, 75 and 50 l, respectively;
  • The annual effective doses, due to ingestion corresponding to 1 Bq/l, would equal 0.35 μSv/year for infants, 0.26 μSv/year for children and 0.18 μSv/year for adults.


For inhalation, the following parameters were used:

  • Ratio of radon in air to radon in tap water supply is in the range of 10 -4 Bq/m 3;
  • Average indoor occupancy time per person is about 7000 h/year;
  • Equilibrium factor between radon and its progeny is equal to 0.4;
  • Dose conversion factor for radon exposure is 9 nSv/Bq/h/m -3
  • The annual effective dose due to inhalation corresponding to the concentration of 1 Bq/l in tap water is 2.5 μSv/year.


The World Health Organization [18] and European (EU) Council [19] recommended 0.1 mSv/year annual effective dose from drinking water to be the safe limit from these three radioisotopes: 222 Rn, 3 H, 40 K.


  Results and Discussion Top


The results of 222 Rn measurements in groundwater in the Hanumangarh district are shown in [Table 1]. The values in samples from Hanumangarh district range from 1.6 ± 0.6 to 5.4 ± 0.7 Bq/l with an average value of 3.3 ± 1.1 Bq/l. In Hanumangarh district the maximum values of radon concentration are found in groundwater drawn by the hand-pumps at Baropal, whereas the minimum values are found at Baramsar. The health and environmental protection agencies have recommended a safe limit of radon in drinking water for human beings. The US Environment Protection Agency has proposed that the allowed maximum contamination level for radon concentration in water is 11 Bq/l. [20] The UNSCEAR has suggested a value of radon concentration in water for human consumption between 4 and 40 Bq/l. [1] These levels are set to represent a concentration that does not result in any significant risk to health over a lifetime's drinking water. The recorded values of radon concentration in groundwater are within the safe limit recommended by US Environmental Protection Agency [20] and UNSCEAR. [1] All measured 222 Rn activity concentrations in groundwater are below the European Commission recommended reference level for radon in drinking water of 100 Bq/l. [21]
Table 1: Results of 222 Rn measurements in groundwater

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The value of radon concentration obtained in groundwater was compared with those reported by other investigators [Table 2]. [7],[8] Duggal et al.[8] have studied the measurements of radon for drinking water in the Bathinda district of Punjab state and it was found that radon concentration was varying from 0.9 to 5.1 Bq/l in hand pump samples analyzed. Rani et al.[7] in their study have reported a radon concentration range of 0.5-85.7 Bq/l in groundwater samples of Northern Rajasthan, India.
Table 2: Comparison of radon concentration in groundwater with those reported by other investigators

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The radon concentration in water samples in Iran lies in the range of 0.064-49.088 Bq/l. [22] Nikolopoulos and Louizi have reported radon concentration in water samples from Cyprus and Greece in the range 0.3-20.0 Bq/l and 0.8-24.0 Bq/l, respectively. [23] Marques et al.[24] have reported a radon concentration range of 0.95-36.0 Bq/l in the Brazil. Manzoor et al.[25] have reported a radon concentration range of 2.0-7.9 Bq/l in water samples in the Pakistan. The radon concentration in water samples in the Transylvania, Romania lies in the range 0.5-129.3 Bq/l. [26] Akar Tarim et al.[27] have reported a radon concentration range of 1.46-53.64 Bq/l in water samples in the Bursa, Turkey. The radon concentration in water samples in the Kenya lies in the range 0.8-371.7 Bq/l. [28] Cho et al.[29] in their study have reported a radon concentration range of 0-300.0 Bq/l in groundwater samples of Busan, South Korea. Radon concentration values obtained in the groundwater samples in this investigation generally lies well within the range reported by other investigators as given in [Table 2].

The annual effective doses for ingestion and inhalation were calculated according to the parameters introduced by UNSCEAR (2000) report [Table 1]. The annual effective doses for ingestion and inhalation vary from 0.29-0.97 μSv/year to 4.0-13.50 μSv/year, respectively. The estimated total annual effective dose due to ingestion and inhalation ranged from 4.29 to 14.47 μSv/year. The World Health Organization [18] and EU Council [19] recommended a 0.1 mSv/year annual effective dose from drinking water to be the safe limit from these three radioisotopes: 222 Rn, 3 H and 40 K. Hence the total annual effective dose in all the locations of the studied area is found to be well within the safe limit.


  Conclusions Top


In the paper, the results of the 222 Rn measurements in 32 groundwater samples collected from Hanumangarh district are presented. The measurements were performed by RAD7 radon detector manufactured by Durridge Company Inc.

The observed values of radon concentration in groundwater of different areas of Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan State are within the international recommended limit and hence safe for drinking purposes. The total effective dose in all locations of the studied area is found to be within the safe limit (0.1 mSv/year) recommended by World Health Organization and EU Council. The results show no significant radiological risk due to radon ingestion for the inhabitants of the studied regions.


  Acknowledgments Top


The authors are thankful to the residents of the study area for their cooperation during the field work and the Department of Physics, B.R.A.N.I.T., Jalandhar, for allowing us to use its instruments.

 
  References Top

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29.Cho JS, Ahn JK, Kim HC, Lee DW. Radon concentrations in groundwater in Busan measured with a liquid scintillation counter method. J Environ Radioact 2004;75:105-12.  Back to cited text no. 29
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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