Guest article by Bogan –
Spurred by a comment on this blog, I started to research how a person might go about filtering water that has been contaminated by radioactivity.
Knowing little to nothing about the topic a person ought to be able to find out something by rummaging through the internet, right?
As I began my search, I noted that more than one seemingly well credentialed commentator suggests that it is impossible to remove all radioactive contaminants from water. This is apparently because they comprise atomic size particles (which by implication can pass through filters).
However a person can reduce the amount of radioactive water in the water source by scaling up the water source (lake vs pond, river v stream, etc.) But to do nothing seems like folly to me.
Natural ‘Earth’ Water Filter
That said earthen filters for radioactive water is a topic that has already been addressed in Modern Survival Blog:
Another resource is a Google eBook. Here’s a link to the relevant chapter of one such book.
The approach in both these articles is to use the filtration qualities of naturally occurring substances like dirt, clay, and rocks. All very sound.
The problem is, you probably wont’ have all the right materials stockpiled in quantity in advance. During the period immediately following a nuclear event (however caused) what if you can’t go outside to prospect for, and mine, the right type of clay? Or to dig the right kind of hole in the ground to access to suitably filtered water?
Modern Technology Filtration For Radioactive Water
There have been updates to water filtration technology over the years. One wonders if there are technology solutions for the problem of radioactive water that do not require extensive education or experience in the soils field.
One recent MSB commentator suggested a 3-4 stage water distillation setup. (The distillation equipment is dual use not only for nice and pure water, but other popular liquids as well. Hmmmm!!!!)
[Ken adds: ] Heavy metals such as Cesium-137 have a very high boiling point temperature 1,240°F for Cesium). Therefore a thermo Water Distiller will leave these heavy metals behind in the source pot. The distiller boils water into steam (212°F). This results in “pure” water transferred cleanly to the receiving container. I have one of these. They are fairly expensive, uses lots of electricity to operate (typically takes about 6 hours of boiling to steam out one gallon), but it works. Distilled water is also important for lead acid batteries and other things…
Radiological Water Filter
Other options for filtering radioactive water include Seychelle products specific Radiological Water Filters.
From their site:
The Radiological filter removes the four basic zones of contamination: aesthetic (chlorine, taste and odor), chemicals (from industry and agriculture), dissolved solids (heavy metals such as lead, mercury, chromium 6) and up to 99.99% of radiological contaminants such as gross beta, radon 222, alpha radium 226, plutonium, uranium, cesium 134 and 137. Removes up to 90% of fluoride.
Similarly, one wonders if a feasible way to filter water might involve a series of three or more commercially available “whole house filters”, with progressively tighter micron filter densities.
[Ken adds: ] From the Environmental Protection Agency:
Reverse osmosis has been identified by EPA as a best available technology for uranium, radium, gross alpha, and beta particles and photon emitters. It can remove up to 99 percent of these radionuclides, as well as many other contaminants (e.g., arsenic, nitrate, and microbial contaminants). Reverse osmosis units can be automated and compact making them appropriate for small systems.
How does Reverse osmosis work? By forcing water through very tiny filter membrane pores – as tiny as .0001 microns, depending on filter media. Therefore “almost” nothing except water gets through.
Note: Reverse osmosis alone (as a radioactive water filter) isn’t quite enough. Why? Because the process doesn’t remove “gaseous contaminants”.
A nuclear plant “major malfunction” may release Iodine-131 as a gas into the atmosphere. It may fall to the earth when it rains and will get into the surface water supply.
Activated carbon may be used within the radioactive water filter system to help remove such compounds (Iodine-131) up until the point of carbon saturation.
FYI, the following is presently the most popular and well reviewed reverse osmosis system on AMZN (includes a carbon stage),
HOW WOULD YOU GO ABOUT ADDRESSING RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATED WATER?