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Drinking Water Exposure to Chemical and Pathogenic Contaminants: Radionuclides

Naturally occurring and man-made radioactive elements undergo radioactive decay in a series of transformations. Energy is emitted during each step of this decay process, which occur as quickly as seconds or as long as many years, until the last step when a stable isotope of lead is created. Particles and rays are given off during the decay process, some in the form of "ionizing radiation." Ionizing radiation can cause adverse human-health effects. There are several naturally occurring and man-made sources of ionizing radiation that are potential water contaminants and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently updated the drinking-water standards for selected radionuclides.

The U.S. Geological Survey conducts occurrence, geochemical, and other studies on radionuclides as water contaminants as well as their use for environmental tracer or age-dating tools.

In Drinking Water:

Occurrence and Geochemistry of Selected Radionuclides

Other Sources of USGS Information on Radionuclides:


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Consumption of Bioaccumulative Contaminants
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URL: http://health.usgs.gov/dw_contaminants/radionuclides.html
Page Contact Information: envirohealth@usgs.gov
Page Last Modified: 05-May-2016@11:23