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I've just updated my blog with my latest research. Please check it out: Filtering radiation from water.
Can radioactive particles be filtered out of contaminated drinking water?
That is what I have been trying to find out for the last two days. There are plenty of claims out there and much debate on forums across the web about radiation and drinking water. My search has proven enlightening and inconclusive at the same time. If my eyes didn’t hurt, I might soldier on, but for now I’d like to make the following claim. There is probably no method of filtering water that is 100% effective against all kinds of radioactive particles.
I just got off the phone with the owner of a company that makes distiller kits that I am adding to the Highwater Filters web store very soon. I asked him if you can effectively remove radioactive particles from water by distilling it. He pretty much said what I have said above. Not all types of radioactive particles can be removed by distilling. I hesitated to ask him what types can be removed because I got the feeling he did not want to make any claims that could possibly be challenged later, and I understand that completely. Although I have read on boards and in articles that distillation is the best, and perhaps only, method for treating water contaminated with radioactive particles, I have also read that reverse osmosis is the best, that ceramic filters reduce radioactive particles, and that carbon filters are effective as well. One of my competitors is leading the charge on their blog by touting that Katadyn emergency water filters are able to filter out radioactive particles, but they really don’t say how effectively. I will wait until I can get factual evidence before I make any claims. All I know is that the Katadyn company claims that the ceramic filters reduce radioactive particles. To me that means you better test the water before drinking. Perhaps a two or three phase filtering system will be effective. Some of the forums out there have some great information about filters made from earth and other biological materials. You can DIY some filters in a 5 gallon bucket. I also read just the other day that banana peels make great filters. There are a lot of methods out there, both tried and true and some that seem dubious. But I am not inclined to dismiss anything without trying to find out the truth. Another concern I have for filtering contaminated water is that used filters need to be handled and disposed of properly. I think that after the emergencies in Japan are lifted, we may be able to learn more about the proper way to safely dispose of the filters. Many radioactive particles have relatively short lives; for some, within two weeks particles will be rendered safe. So it may be just a matter of storing them temporarily in a place that is safely contained and protected from exposure. I found it difficult to find scientific evidence that any of the claims I read about are true. Some of the authors sure sound convincing but many of them will profit from the knowledge they are sharing. How do you tell whose claims are based on real science and whose are purely speculation? The answer is not quite clear to me yet. I’d love to hear from anyone who can help me filter out the facts from the myths. Pun intended!
Update: January 10, 2013 The Vortex Non-electric Water Distiller Kit by Highwater Filters is now available. We have both kits installed in 5 gallon buckets and DIY kits available.
Update: May 17, 2018 We now carry CuZn Water Filtration products including a radiation filter. Go here to view replacement filter. Triple under counter for radiation, fluoride, chlorine and other contaminants.