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Are reverse osmosis water purifiers capable of removing iodine 131 and cesium 137?

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) indicates in the following statement that reverse osmosis and ion exchange are effective in removing radionuclides (radioactive atoms or molecules such as iodine 131 and cesium 137). The WQA (Water Quality Association) also recommends reverse osmosis based on the EPA’s data. Furthermore, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, an incorporated administrative agency in Japan, has announced that methods other than reverse osmosis are thought to be ineffective in removing iodine 131 present in tap water.

TABLE I–5.—BEST AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGIES (BATS) FOR RADIONUCLIDES IN DRINKING WATER

Contaminant BAT(Best Available Technologies)
Combined radium-226 and radium-228 Ion Exchange, Lime Softening, Reverse Osmosis.
Gross alpha (excluding radon and uranium) Reverse Osmosis.
Beta particle and photon radioactivity Ion Exchange and Reverse Osmosis.
Uranium Ion Exchange, Lime Softening; Reverse Osmosis, Enhanced Coagulation/Filtration.

>>EPA radionuclide Rule (PDF 459K)
>>Iodine Radiation Protection (PDE 173K)
>>Cesium Radiation Protection (PDF 168K)

Basic Information about Radionuclides in Drinking Water

How will radionuclides be removed from my drinking water?
The following treatment method(s) have proven to be effective in removing radionuclides at levels below their MCLs:

  • Beta particle and Photon Radiation: ion exchange and reverse osmosis;
  • (Gross) Alpha Emitters: reverse osmosis;
  • Radium 226 and Radium 228 (Combined): ion exchange, reverse osmosis, lime softening;
  • Uranium: Ion exchange, reverse osmosis, lime softening, coagulation/filtration.

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