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Is Well Water Safe to Drink After Nuclear Fallout?

September 30, 2022 4 min read

Is Well Water Safe to Drink After Nuclear Fallout?

We hear this question often from homeowners with wells: "Will my well water be safe after a nuclear event?" Unfortunately, even though your well water comes from an underground source, it probably won't be safe to drink after a nuclear incident without adequate filtration.

 

In fact, your well water might already be contaminated with radiological particles, even if there hasn't been a nuclear attack or other nuclear fallout nearby.  

 

Radioactive particles travel through our oceans, into the atmosphere via the water cycle, and down to earth again. There, it seeps down into our water table and our wells.

 

If this information makes you nervous, take heart. There is good news. You can decontaminate your well water if you use the right kind of filter.

 

Today, the Seychelle team is here to explain:

 

  • How radiological contaminants get into water supplies, including well water 
  • The health effects of drinking water contaminated by radiological particles
  • Ways to remove radiological particles from well water

 

Let's look at how nuclear fallout could contaminate your well water.

 

How Nuclear Fallout Could Contaminate Private Wells in the US

It's terrifying to imagine, but a direct nuclear attack on the US would have immediate and profound consequences. One study published by John W. Birks, PH.D., and Sherry L. Stephens of the University of Colorado, says a major nuclear war would likely kill 1 billion people immediately and injure hundreds of millions more.

 

Beyond the destruction of shelter, food, infrastructure and communications, survivors eventually discover the atmosphere and drinking water changed. Clouds of dusty radioactive material would hover in the skies, and oceans and freshwater resources would become contaminated.

 

The Negative Effects of Drinking Water Contaminated with Radiological Particles

Radioactive materials called radionuclides can occur naturally. Erosion, for instance, can cause mildly radioactive materials to leach into our groundwater. 

 

But the more significant concern for most modern Americans is the possibility of nuclear war. Nearly every material we come in contact with would become contaminated in the event of an attack. This includes soil, drinking water, livestock and food crops.

 

When radionuclides break down (decay), they create radiation. Radionuclides are a natural part of our environment, and we're in contact with them in small amounts every day. Acute, intense exposure to large amounts of radiation (like nuclear fallout), or even long-term exposure to small quantities in an untested well, can cause significant health issues.

 

Drinking Water Contaminated with Radionuclides Causes Several Cancers

Radioactive drinking water causes several cancers, including:

 

  • Stomach cancer
  • Bladder and kidney cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Testicular cancer in males
  • Breast cancer in females
  • And lung cancer in both sexes

Reproductive issues are possible as well. We still have a lot to learn about these problems, but some studies suggest drinking radionuclides will cause:

 

  • Male infertility
  • An increased rate of stillborn births
  • Congenital (birth) defects 

 

Clearly, it's vital that well-owners test their drinking water regularly for radionuclides. 

 

How to Test Your Well Water for Radiological Particles

About 15% of Americans use private wells as their primary source of drinking water. Unlike municipal systems, these wells are not well-regulated or routinely inspected for radionuclides. Well owners are responsible for making sure their drinking water is safe.

 

Well water should be tested every year for contaminants. Every third year, well owners should test for radionuclides. Well-owners can order these tests online or purchase them from their local water department. 

 

How to Remove Radiological Particles for Safer Well Water

Radionuclides are dangerous to your whole family. You can use Seychelle's Radiological Bundle to remove radiological contaminants like:

 

  • Gross beta
  • Alpha radium 226
  • Cesium 137 & 134
  • Uranium 
  • And radon 222

 

Our nuclear emergency bundle will also clear your water of inorganic contaminants like asbestos, lead and mercury. Chemical pollutants are also removed: herbicides, pesticides (DDT), detergents, benzene and other toxic chemicals. 

 

The icing on the cake is that your well water will be clear and delicious! No more sulfur smell, no chlorine taste, no more silt or visible particulates. Just refreshing, clean, safe water for your family to enjoy. Your well water has never tasted this good. 

 

The Wrap Up

Most wells in the US aren't regulated by government authorities. And even if they are, homeowners should still take a proactive stance toward their family’s safety.

 

Well water can be contaminated by radioactive particles anytime, thanks to the water cycle. You should test your well water for radionuclides every third year during the best of times and more often after a nuclear incident or event. 

 

Contaminated well water can be extremely dangerous, but you won't be able to identify it by taste, smell, or appearance.

 

If you do have contaminated well water, there is a solution. Seychelle radiological filters are tested to remove up to 99% of radiological contaminants from your water.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

After a nuclear event, when will my well be safe again? 

Radiation never goes away. Radioactive particles have a half-life. Depending on the molecule type, that half life can be a few seconds or a few million years. During that time, the nucleus of these molecules will continue to blast electrons into the matter around it. This is the same way your microwave cooks food.

 

After one half-life, the radioactive material is at half potency. Another half-life period passes, and the radioactivity is decreased by half to 1/4, then 1/8, 1/16, and so on. So radioactive particles never disappear, they only grow less potent over time. 

 

What is radioactive water?

Radioactive water is water contaminated by radiological pollution. This pollution can come from nuclear power plants, nuclear incidents like meltdowns, and nuclear war. Radiological pollution can also occur naturally. Radiological materials found in well water include radium, uranium and radon.

 

Works Cited

Epa.gov: Natural Radionuclides in Private Wells https://www.epa.gov/radtown/natural-radionuclides-private-wells

 

NOAA.gov: Water Cycle https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/freshwater/water-cycle

 

Minnesota Department of Health: Radionuclides (Radium) in Drinking Water https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/contaminants/radionuclides.html#Protect

 

National Library of Medicine: Possible Toxic Environments Following a Nuclear War https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK219160/