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News article7 May 2020

Ensuring safe drinking water in the EU

PT test samples for homogeneity and reference measurements
PT test samples for homogeneity and reference measurements, JRC
© EU, 2020

Supporting the Euratom Drinking Water Directive JRC organised a Europe-wide proficiency test to verify the status of radon measurements in drinking water. It highlighted certain shortcomings and future metrological needs as summarised in a new article and report recently published.

Inhaling radon present in the air exposes us to radiation. The dose we receive by radon through breathing is one of the most important radiation doses that all of us incur in normal life. Radon and its decay products can also be present in drinking water and, depending on the level or radon, may pose an increased health risk if ingested or released into the air during showering. Therefore, member states are obliged to monitor this radiation risk.

To validate the quality and comparability of data from the member states obtained by environmental radioactivity measurements, the Euratom Article 35-36 Experts asked JRC via the Directorate-General for Energy to organise a proficiency test (PT) on measuring the activity of 222Rn in drinking water. 222Rn is the isotope of radon causing the concern.

This proficiency test was organised with the participation of 101 organisations, submitting 135 individual measurement results in 2018. This was the first radioactivity in water PT since the publication of the Euratom Drinking Water Directive in 2013. Despite the relative simplicity of radon measurements in drinking water, JRC researchers identified many pitfalls from the sampling until the measurements, which might lead to incorrect dose risk estimation.

More information can be found at the Technical report on the REM 2018 radon-in-water proficiency test on EU Science Hub and in the article Performance evaluation of a European scale proficiency test on radon-in-water measurements in Europe on ScienceDirect website.


Publication date
7 May 2020