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Radium-226 and radium-228 in shallow ground water, southern New Jersey

Fact Sheet 062-98

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Abstract

Concentrations of total radium (the sum of radium-226 and radium-228) and gross alpha-particle activities in drinking water that exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) are known to cause cancer. Results of investigations by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) indicate that concentrations of total radium in water samples from 33 percent of 170 wells in the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system in southern New Jersey exceeded the MCL of 5 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) (fig. 1). Wells containing water in which concentrations of total radium were greater than the MCL typically are found where the Bridgeton Formation crops out, in or near an agricultural area, where ground water is acidic (pH less than 5), and where nitrate concentrations generally exceed 5 mg/L (milligrams per liter). Leaching of nitrogen, calcium, and magnesium from agricultural chemicals (fertilizer, lime) applied to cropland may increase the mobility of radium in ground water. Gross alphaparticle activities exceeded the USEPA MCL of 15 pCi/L in water from 14 percent of 127 wells. A statistically significant 2:1 ratio between gross alpha-particle activity and concentration of total radium indicates that gross alpha-particle activity can be used as a screening tool to predict the presence of water that may have a high total-radium concentration.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Radium-226 and radium-228 in shallow ground water, southern New Jersey
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
062-98
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Description:
6 p.
Country:
United States
State:
New Jersey
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N