Human beings are naturally exposed to ionising radiation. Indeed, the Earth's crust contains radionuclides that, through different physical processes, penetrate water and food and constitute approximately 12% of the overall exposure of a person to radiation (estimate made by UNSCEAR, a United Nations Scientific Committee).
As regards Radon, just 10% of the exposure is due to ingestion. It is a radioactive gas, so it can migrate from the aqueous phase and accumulate in the air of indoor environments, therefore it is inhaled.
All this adds up to the exposure to radiation of anthropic origin that can be found in water and food. This poses a risk for human health that is similar to the risk posed by the radiation of natural origin, but the World Health Organisation devised different control strategies to monitor the origin of the radioactive components.
Italian Legislative Decree No 28 of 15 February 2016 (transposing Council Directive No 2013/51/EURATOM) and the subsequent Decree of the Italian Minister of Health of 2 August 2017 set out the limits as regards radioactive substances in the water intended for human consumption.
The Decree applies to:
- All treated and untreated water intended for human consumption, the preparation or cooking of food and beverages or for other domestic uses, regardless their origin, supplied through a distribution network, in tankers, bottles or other containers
- All the water used in a food-production undertaking to manufacture, process, preserve or market products or substances intended for human consumption
The parametric values shall be complied with in the following points:
- In the case of water supplied from a distribution network, at the point at which it emerges from the taps
- In the case of water supplied from a tanker, at the point at which it emerges from the tanker
- In the case of water put into bottles or containers, at the point at which the water is put into the bottles or containers
- In the case of water used in a food-production undertaking, at the point where the water is used in the undertaking
The Decree does not apply to:
- Natural mineral waters recognised as such in accordance with Italian Legislative Decree No 176 of 8 October 2011 transposing Directive No 2009/54/EC
- Waters which are medicinal products in compliance with Italian Legislative Decree No 219 of 24 April 2006 transposing Directive 2001/83/EC
White Lab can test for the presence of radioactive substances in the water intended for human consumption in line with applicable regulations.
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- Determination of Radon activity: Accredited testing in compliance with UNI 11261:2008 standard
- Total Indicative Dose, in compliance with UNI 11260:2008 standard (Total alpha and beta activity determination by means of liquid scintillation)
- Tritium activity (3H), in compliance with ISO 9698:2010 standard (Determination of tritium activity concentration by liquid scintillation counting method)
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