Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Drinking Water

Radon in Nova Scotia's Drinking Water

What is radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed when uranium breaks down naturally and escapes from the soil, rock, or water into the air. It has no colour, odour, or taste. In Nova Scotia, radon is found where there is bedrock that contains uranium.

How can I be exposed to radon in drinking water?

You can be exposed to radon through your drinking water supply by:

  • drinking water containing radon
  • radon gas released to the air when you shower or wash

What is the effect of radon in drinking water on our health?

Radon in drinking water has not been shown to be harmful to health. The amount of radon that goes into the air when you use water is so small that it is generally not thought to be cause for worry. It usually makes up only 1 to 2 % of the radon that can collect in indoor air. There is no Canadian guideline for radon in drinking water.

Should I have my drinking water checked for radon?

There are no known health risks from drinking water that contains radon and no guidelines for safe levels. If you are concerned, you can have your water tested by a private laboratory here in Nova Scotia. There is a list of labs that can test your water for radon at the end of this fact sheet.

There are several ways to remove radon. They are described in a fact sheet from Nova Scotia Environment called Methods to Remove Radon from Drinking Water.

What about radon in indoor air?

Radon in indoor air is a concern especially if it accumulates in enclosed spaces. There is a Canadian guideline for radon in indoor air. Since this brochure talks only about radon in water, we suggest that you look for "Radon, a guide for Canadian homeowners (1997)" for more information on radon in indoor air. You can obtain a copy of this publication from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation by calling 1-800-668-2642. You may also visit their website at: or Health Canada's at for more information.

You asked about... is a series of fact sheets produced by the Nova Scotia Environment and Labour. For more copies, call the regional office nearest you or head office.

Bedford: (902) 424-7773
Halifax: (902) 424-3600
Kentville: (902) 679-6086
Sydney: (902) 563-2100
Truro: (902) 893-5880

For More Information Health Canada (1996) Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality 6th ed., Government of Canada, available from Health Canada's at .

Grantham, D. (1986) The Occurrence and Significance of Uranium, Radium and Radon in Water Supplies in Nova Scotia: A report of the investigation carried out by the provincial uranium task force. Department of Health. Province of Nova Scotia.

Labs that test for radon in drinking water:

QEII Health Sciences Centre
Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, Halifax
(902) 473-8466

Maxxam Analytics Inc., Bedford
(902) 420-0203