Radioactive Water Filter

Water Filter For Radiation – Radioactive Particles

Here’s an unpleasant thought… The potential need for a radiation water filter. To filter out radiation. More specifically, radioactive particles.

A nuclear detonation. A nuclear exchange. Nuclear war. It’ll never happen, right?

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. Radiation.

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).

But to do nothing seems like folly to me.

Natural Earth Water Filter for Radiation

That said, earthen filters for radioactive water is a topic that has already been addressed in Modern Survival Blog:

[ Read: Earthen Water Filter For Radioactive Water ]

Another resource is the following book:

Nuclear War Survival Skills: Lifesaving Nuclear Facts and Self-Help Instructions
(amzn)

The approach 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 Water Filtration For Radiation

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.

Water Distiller

[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…

Stainless Steel Countertop Water Distiller
(amzn)

Seychelle Radiological Water Filter

Other options for filtering radioactive water include Seychelle products-specific Radiological Water Filters.

The Seychelle Family Water Pitcher RADIOLOGICAL is a 1 gallon filter pitcher. It’s designed to reduce chlorine taste and odor, along with dangerous radiological contaminants like Radium 226 and Plutonium.

Ion resin combined with carbon reduces 99% of dissolved solids, along with Radium 226, Radon 222, Plutonium, Uranium, and Cesium.

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.

Seychelle Water Pitcher RADIOLOGICAL
(view at ReadyMadeResouces – distributor)

Radiation Water Filtration Straw
(amzn)

Reverse Osmosis

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.

(source)

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

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),

iSpring 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
(amzn)

How would you go about addressing radioactive contaminated water?

 
[ Read: HEPA Air Filter For Alpha Particle Radiation ]

[ Read: 5 Radiation Detector Choices ]

33 Comments

  1. Ken,
    Great article to get the subject going. but let’s first look at, and define what we are trying to filter out. “Radionuclides” and “fallout contaminated water” needs some defining.

    There are a whole host of radioactive elements that might need to be filtered depending on the situation. Fallout is one thing, nuke plant leak another, and downstream of a uranium mine another.

    As you have pointed out, a lot of the existing filtering systems say they filter out certain radioactive ‘daughters’. I personally do not think any of the mentioned filtering systems will be 100% by themselves.

    I am thinking it is going to take a combination of the different systems. Take for instance, RO. Most of the under-sink RO systems are not just RO membranes, they also incorporate spun poly cartridge and activated carbon block filters prior to the RO part, then have a final activated carbon ‘polishing filter on the faucet side. No way of knowing if it will get ‘all radionuclides’, but I think there is a good chance it will removed a vast majority between the RO and Carbon filter technologies.

    An additional concern that needs to be addressed when analyzing any of these technologies is “how do you know when the filtering system is clogged or in need of replenishment?” (also disposal of filtering media that has become “Hot” from the filtered out radioactive elements).

    We have a lot of good folks here that I think can answer at least some of these questions. Maybe also address the technologies available for ‘expedient filtering needs’ and ‘longer term permanent survival needs’ . Sorry for the long post, clean water has been a big issue in my life. Can ya tell?

  2. Another possibility would be atmospheric condensation after the initial blast has settled. There are machines that can take water from the air, and I understand that efficiency has increased enormously in the last few years. Most do take electricity, but in some areas a passive process is used to gather dew and water crops.

    1. Lauren,
      I believe there would be a lot of radioactive elements in the air even weeks after a blast. Many of these are water soluble. In fact, Tritium, ( H3) bonds with oxygen to form a radioactive form of water. Fallout will also be being blown around by the wind and resuspending in the atmosphere along with radioactive ‘decay daughters’ . Atmospheric water condensation systems are great for areas that have no surface or ground water resources, but would be subject to contamination well after a nuclear blast. just my thoughts.

  3. If my well water becomes contaminated with radiation not filtered out after traveling miles in earth and gravel from the mountains, my food production and health would already be in jeopardy. Kind of like “beating a dead horse”.

    1. Hermit Us,
      Chances are if your well is pulling from a deep tight aquifer, you will be getting clean water. Another good reason to make sure that your well casing has been sealed so it does not get infiltration from the surface.

      1. minerjim
        Yup, well sealed and using a pitless well adapter down 6′. Also not in a place where any surface drainage can collect.

        1. Hermit Us,
          I figured you’d already have been on top of that. Though you’d be surprised how many wells I have looked at professionally where the owner had the well sticking out of the ground in the middle of a horse paddock, and then wondered why his kids were getting sick from the water. sheesh!

      2. The water in an aquifer takes decades or more (hundreds of years) to go from the surface to depth. If someone is pulling their drinking water from a very shallow depth of a few feet to a few tens of feet, then yes a high contamination is entirely possible. In my area, a lot of wells were initially only a few tens of feet (20 to 40 feet) but have had to go deeper (80 feet) or more due to nitrates in which fertilizers were over applied decades ago. Those practices have greatly improved over the years through greater analysis if soil types and vegetation requirements. Think about it, if your crops only need half the anhydrous ammonia to get the same benefit, why not use less. That is after all a cost savings.

    2. I have not checked if there is any correlation between our radon levels and any increase in lung cancer around here.

      1. “Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.” from the EPA website. A lot of uranium miners died of lung cancer over the years that was attributed to radon, the good majority that died were smokers. Why? the radon gas, when inhaled tended to chemically attach itself to carbon particles attached in the lungs left over from smoking. Once the radon got locked into the lungs, it kept emitting radiation to the surrounding lung tissue and caused cancer. (BTW when you smoke a pack of cigarettes you inhale minute amounts of radioactive Polonium in the tobacco, and it does the same thing supposedly.)

        I personally would be worried more about other types of radioactive elements in water, like Cesium-137 and Strontium-90. These are stronger emitters and can do more damage. Radon can be released from water while showering as someone said. A simple treatment system for radon can be a tank with a spray system and an active vent for the radon. Does not remove all, but tends to reduce the amount. In the field you could pour the water back and forth between buckets and basically do the same thing to remove radon, for what it is worth.

  4. Defcon,
    Fukushima. There is a whole lot of water to be decontaminated, more than a cubic buttload. Filtering takes a lot of time, lots of filter media, etc. They seem to be just overwhelmed. I think their present process is to hold the highly contaminated water as long as they can, to try and let the short-lived highly radioactive elements decay down to somewhat stable isotopes before treatment and then releasing it in small amounts so that the sea water will dilute it down to ‘acceptable’ levels. Not an optimal process by any means, but better than just letting it bleed into the ocean untouched. Sad state of affairs to be sure.

      1. Fear is one thing, living in a radioactive dust bowl with little food and contaminated water not good.

  5. I’ve had Sechelle radiation water bottles for 3 years or better.They filter just about everything, but I always wonder how to keep the outside and the whole ystem pure while using it, including my hands and me!

    1. Good point, i honestly never even thought of that beyond using it to use as a final filter for ore filtered water,

  6. All we have are the seychelle filter bottles,
    Theoretically the water i have stored in the basement shouldnt get contaminated, that said, i base that theory on the fact that we are pretty far from any first strike spots, i doubt we would be it, and prevailing winds at the several different elevations would take contaminants away from our location, but there is always a chance eh, that murphies law,,,

    1. I don’t know, I’m starting t catch 3 eyed crabs and hoping for further mutation into ones with 4 claws. I’m kidding of course.

  7. Or all the little lead pellets ive eaten over the decades of eating ducks, geese, pheasants and such from the hunt

  8. Ill just go back to what they taught me in boot camp in the event of NBC warfare. Filter what you can, but in the end just put your head between yoiur legs and kiss your a$$ goodbye.

  9. I think the key thing to put your minds at ease, is your water source. From what I’ve read about the subject over the years, radioactivity does not bind with water it only binds with the particles in it. So get yourself a 55 gallon or larger container and fill it with the cleanest water you can find. Then seal it and let it sit a few days or more so gravity can pull all the particles down to earth. Then when you feel enough time has passed, as gently as possible without disturbing the water, siphon out the top half of your collected water. From there you can go ahead and purify the water the way you normally do. Obviously the longer you can let the water rest undisturbed the better but most sources I’ve read say that 3-7 days is adequate.

    Then of course, you have to find someplace to dispose of the contaminated half of your water source and rinse out your container.

  10. Just an idea. If clay is used to remove radioactive particles because they bind to it what about clay based kitty litter? Stir to mix, filter to taste! :)

  11. So a deep well of 270 feet down will be clean from radiation as long as the top was closed, and it is. Finally 10 points for Old Lady!

    1. Old Lady,
      You won’t get any radiation if the well top is sealed. You may get radiation in the water from radon or uranium. Most states have a way to have water tested. Check your local govt environmental health dept. The recommended high limit is 4 PiC/L (4 Pico curies per liter).

  12. I have been advocating a reverse osmosis system for years. The one shown in the picture above is the kind that I would recommend. The semi-permeable membrane is ideal for filtering contaminated radionuclide water and the pre and post buffers are activated carbon. These buffers would act as a great concentration test point for your gamma radiation monitor (pre and post). The one feature lacking on the pictured RO unit is the UV light stage. The RO units rated for humans are expensive, but the RO units for fish aquariums are much cheaper and usually have a higher rated output. Get the unit with universal filters that can be purchase in bulk on eBay or Amazon. Get the buffers that use the 1/4 inch push-lock connections and are used for inline filters for refrigerator water dispensers. (Don’t forget to pre-flush them for carbon dust.) If you get all clear, see through, filter holder stages, the filters are easy to monitor and can be changed as needed. The auto-mechanical shut off valve is cheap, buy spares. Don’t worry about human rated tubing, just get standard 1/4 inch tubing on the pre-RO side. It runs on water pressure (except the UV light stage) so it could be emergency run on a bug sprayer or an optional dc water pump. Get a spare O-ring set for the filter stages (available at all big box stores.)

  13. You could build a reverse osmosis 6 stage system yourself by sourcing all of your own parts and following the simple RO schematic from the web for about $200.

  14. RO water leaches calcium from your skeleton. I would add some silica and some Precious Prill Beads (Magnesium) to raise the PH above 7 and give yourself protection from Osteoperosis. Stay healthy during the Apocalypse my friends.

  15. Justa a note. Alpha Particles (the most internally damaging kind) are smaller than an atom. They are 2 protons and 2 neutrons in size.
    Does anyone really believe that reverse osmosis will remove these? I don’t.
    The nuclear industry uses Ion exchange resin beds to remove most neuclear material from their water.
    If you want to clean your water, progressively filter out large particles, until you get to sub micron size. Then RO it, DeIonize it and finally buffer it with a couple stages of “ACTIVATED” carbon filtration.
    Now that you have done all this it will probably give you diareha when you drink it, due to lack of minerals and to being “De-Ionized”
    At least that is what they claim in the plant.

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