State of New Mexico > Environment Department > Drinking Water Bureau


Radionuclides are unstable elements that decay and emit particles or radiation.  The RADIONUCLIDES RULE was promulgated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1977 and amended in 2000.  The rule groups radionuclides into 4 categories: Radium (including 236 and 238), Alpha Emitters (not including radon or uranium), Beta Emitters (a large group of radioisotopes that emit a beta particle, i.e. high speed electron), and Uranium (which also is a heavy metal and has toxicological effects).

Radionuclides in groundwater are generally naturally occurring (though radionuclides can be introduced into groundwater or surface water through improper handling and disposal of radioactive waste material).  They dissolve readily as groundwater moves through an aquifer that contains radionuclides.  They occur in many locations around New Mexico. 

Several options may be available to contend with a water source impacted by radionuclides.  These include treatment, locating a new source, blending impacted water with unimpacted water.  When looking at treatment options, waste disposal must be carefully considered.

You can view EPA's RADIONUCLIDES RULE WEBSITE for more information on radionuclides and the rule.

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