Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) in the groundwater of two islands with various geologic settings in South Korea

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MoonSu Kim
Ikhyun Kim
Hyunkoo Kim
Hunje Jo
Sunhwa Park
Jongyeon Hwang
Dongsoo Kim
Seongjin Jo
Taeseung Kim
Hyenmi Cheong

Abstract

Since 2007, Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) such as uranium-238 and radon-222 etc. in groundwater from the Community Water-supply Systems (CWS) in two islands have been studied in South Korea. In 71 samples from Ganghwa (G) Island, the maximum value of uranium-238 concentration is 72.21 μg/L. 3 CWSs (4.2%) exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 30 μg/L for uranium-238. The maximum value of radon-222 activity is 614 Bq/L. 28 CWSs (39.4 %) did not meet the United States Environment Protection Agency (US EPA) proposed Alternative Maximum Contaminant Level (AMCL) of 148 Bq/L for radon-222. At all CWS that did not meet the US EPA’s MCL or AMCL, some appropriate actions were taken such as water treatment, alternative well development, mixing water of different origins, and so forth. In the 52 CWSs of Jeju (J) Island, the maximum value of uranium-238 and radon-222 concentrations are 1.37 μg/L and 94.83 Bq/L, respectively. All values for uranium-238, gross alpha, and radon-222 meet MCL and proposed AMCL of US EPA drinking water standard. The two islands have different geological settings that are believed to be the causes of the big differences in the NORM levels. Geologically an old island has much higher NORM values than a young island formed in the Quaternary Period due to hydrogeological factors such as recharge and infiltration rates of precipitation. The residence times in the aquifers for water-rock (mineral) interactions are very different from each other.

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Original Scientific Papers

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