Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen and is a by-product of energy production in Canadian Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) reactors. The release of this radioisotope into the environment is carefully managed at CANDU facilities in order to minimize radiation exposure to the public. However, under some circumstances, small accidental releases to the environment can occur. The radiation doses to humans and non-human biota from these releases are low and orders of magnitude less than doses received from naturally occurring radioisotopes or from manmade activities, such as medical imaging and air travel. There is however a renewed interest in the biological consequences of low dose tritium exposures and a new limit for tritium levels in Ontario drinking water has been proposed. The Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council (ODWAC) issued a formal report in May 2009 in response to a request by the Minister of the Environment, concluding that the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard for tritium should be revised from the current 7,000 Bq/L level to a new, lower 20 Bq/L level. In response to this recommendation, an international scientific symposium was held at McMaster University to address the issues surrounding this change in direction and the validity of a new policy. Scientists, regulators, government officials, and industrial stakeholders were present to discuss the potential health risks associated with low level radiation exposure from tritium. The regulatory, economic, and social implications of the new proposed limit were also considered.
Dingwall, S; Mills, CE; Phan, N; Taylor, K; and Boreham, DR
"HUMAN HEALTH AND THE BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF TRITIUM IN DRINKING WATER: PRUDENT POLICY THROUGH SCIENCE – ADDRESSING THE ODWAC NEW RECOMMENDATION,"
Dose-Response: An International Journal: Vol. 9
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dose_response/vol9/iss1/4