Analysis / Environmental Analysis / Water Quality
Resources are getting shorter these days and water quality becomes an important area of work of Rhine-Main Water Research Ltd. (RMWR), a non-profit organisation. Water quality is understood not only as the quality of drinking water, but after European or WHO standards, but also as the quality of ground water and waste water, because these waters may have a decisive influence on the quality of drinking water. RMWR performs successfully since more than 20 years research projects on the field of water quality worldwide. For routine measurement we cooperate closely with the central laboratory of Hessenwasser GmbH & Co. KG, which is certificated in the field of water analysis and works with experienced staff and modern analytical instruments.
We are working especially on research projects in the field of natural radioactivity in water. We develop innovative processing methods, to remove radioactive substances as Uranium, Radium, and Radon from water, especially drinking water. With these methods, threshold values, presently coming into force in Germany and the European Union, can be safely observed.
The institute has long-standing experience in the field of unconventional analytics, e.g. of polar and persistent compounds in water. This is e.g. pharmaceutical residues and pesticides, from which we analysed their behaviour in the environment. We don’t stop at the analytical work; we also developed modern methods to separate contaminants from waste water and drinking water.
We analyse furthermore new chemicals for their degradation patterns in surface waters by a test-filter method after Sontheimer. In these filter systems river water is pumped, together with the new compound, over a bacteria colony on a special surface to see degradation pathways of the compound.
Water quality is in many countries not as well controlled as in Europe and therefore often of high interest abroad. We help to develop the sampling strategy and handling, the analysis and evaluation. We help to establish qualified laboratories with a qualified staff. We help to identify sources of contamination with the aim to close them.
The department of radioactivity at RMWR mainly deals with the determination of natural and artificial radionuclides in aqueous samples. If the levels of the respective isotopes exceed the current regulations, we are able to provide sophisticated techniques for the removal of the most important radioactive substances from drinking water, including uranium and radium.
Determination of Radioactivity in Drinking Water
The determination of radionuclides in drinking water became increasingly important within the European Union since the implementation of the European Drinking Water Directive in 1998. The limit for the uptake of radionuclides via drinking water has been established in the form of a ``total indicative dose`` of 0.1 mSv per year. Unfortunately, the total indicative dose cannot be measured directly but has to be calculated from the summed up contribution of each natural or artificial radionuclide, which is present in drinking water - excluding 3H, 40K, radon and radon decay products.
It is well known that the process of determining the total indicative dose is difficult and troublesome. The main radionuclides of concern can however be minimized to be only the natural isotopes of uranium and radium along with 210Pb and 210Po. It has been recommended to apply screening-methods for a first cost-saving assessment of the radioactive content in drinking water. The parameters of choice are the gross-alpha and gross-beta activity concentration. If the gross-alpha activity in a tap water sample is lower than 0.1 Bq/l and the gross-beta activity does not exceed 1.0 Bq/l, it can be assumed that the annual total indicative dose of adults is less than 0.1 most per year.
Main Fields of Work within the Radioactivity Department
- Removal of radionuclides during water treatment
- Determination of natural and artificial radionuclides in ground-, drinking- and mineral waters
- Determination of radionuclides in solid matrices, such as residues from water treatment
- Development of new measurement procedures for determining natural radionuclides in liquid samples
- Radon-in-air measurements in waterworks and private homes
- Consulting service for water supply companies, mineral water producers and breweries
- Expert‘s reports in the field of natural radioactivity
Alpha/Beta/Gamma – Spectrometry
2 Liquid Scintillation Counters (Tritium measurements)
5 Triathler Multilabel Tester for Gross-Alpha/Beta & Radon determination
Radon-in-air monitors (Genitron Alpha-Guard)
Accreditation after DIN/ISO 17025: One of the first laboratories in Germany with an accreditation with respect to radioactivity in drinking water.
Since October 2003, 10 different methods have been accredited by the German Accreditation Service for Chemistry (DACH):
- Natural and artificial radionuclides in water und solid matrices
- Radionuclides in ground-, drinking- and mineral water.