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Naturally occurring radionuclides in the ground water of southeastern Pennsylvania

June 1, 2000

Naturally occurring radionuclides in the ground water of southeastern Pennsylvania may pose a health hazard to some residents, especially those drinking water from wells drilled in the Chickies Quartzite. Water from 46 percent of wells sampled in the Chickies Quartzite and 7 percent of wells sampled in other geologic formations exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) for total radium. Radon-222 may pose a health problem for homeowners by contributing to indoor air radon-222 levels. The radon-222 activity of water from 89 percent of sampled wells exceeded 300 pCi/L (picocuries per liter), the proposed USEPA MCL, and water from 16 percent of sampled wells exceeded 4,000 pCi/L. Uranium does not appear to be present in elevated concentrations in ground water in southeastern Pennsylvania.