What Does Gross Alpha Mean In Drinking Water?

Gross Alpha is a test that is performed to measure the overall radioactivity in drinking water. Naturally occurring radioactive elements emit alpha particles as they decay.

Alpha radiation exists in the soil, in the air, and also in water.  Bedrock in the earth contains different amounts of radioactive elements, so levels of alpha radiation in water also vary. Gross Alpha testing detects these alpha particles in the water and indicates the presence of radioactive substances, such as radium 224 and radium 226. There are also other radioactive substances, besides radium, that may contribute to the gross alpha radiation in water.

What Are The Health Effects If My Gross Alpha Is Elevated?

Gross Alpha is considered a primary health standard.

Most drinking water sources have very low levels of alpha radiation and are not considered to be a health concern. Levels at or less than 5 pCi/ do not even require further testing.  This level is comparable to having one x-ray.

Extremely high level of alpha radiation is a concern because it interacts with genetic material and has been known to cause cancer. The cancers associated with radiation can cover the full range of carcinomas and sarcomas.

Can Levels Of Alpha Radiation In Drinking Water Be Reduced?

Several treatment options exist to reduce the levels of gross alpha radiation in drinking water. To determine the most effective treatment, the source of the alpha radiation must be identified. Because alpha radiation can come from a variety of sources, more than a single test may be needed.

If you think you have high radiation in your drinking water, contact one of our specialists to discuss your options.