Research performed in many locations over the past decade has shown that radon is an effective tracer for quantifying submarine groundwater discharge (SGD). The technique works because both fresh and saline groundwaters acquire radon from the subterranean environment and display activities that are typically orders of magnitude greater than those found in coastal seawaters. However, some uncertainties and unanswered problems remain. We focus here on three components of the mass balance, each of which has some unresolved issues: (1) End-member radon - what to do if groundwater Rn measurements are highly variable? (2) Atmospheric evasion -do the standard gas exchange equations work under high-energy coastal mixing scenarios? And (3) "mixing" losses - are there other significant radon losses (e.g. recharge of coastal waters into the aquifer) besides those attributed to mixing with lower-activity waters offshore? We address these issues using data sets collected from several different types of coastal environment. Copyright ?? 2007 IAHS Press.