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Assessing the Committed Effective Dose From 226Ra in Thermal Spring Water From San Diego De Alcala, Chihuahua, Mexico

Villalba, Lourdes1; Colmenero-Sujo, Luis2; Rubio-Arias, Héctor1; Pinales-Munguia, Adán1; Mireles-García, Fernando3; Dávila-Rangel, Ignacio3; Pinedo-Vega, José L.3; Ochoa-Rivero, Jesús4

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001084

The oral administration of mineral-rich spring water is known as hydropinic treatment and is used to treat certain ailments. Health benefits are attributed to thermal spring water containing radioactive elements such as radium; this has popularized use of such radioactive water in various parts of the world, causing those who ingest it to increase their internal radiation dose. The goal of this study was to assess the activity concentrations of 226Ra present in the thermal spring waters of San Diego de Alcala, in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, and to estimate the health risk posed to patients by the effective dose received from ingesting this water during hydropinic treatments. Water samples were taken from different areas of the San Diego de Alcala thermal springs, and pH, temperature, electrical conductivity, and total dissolved solids were measured. The 226Ra activity concentrations were measured with a liquid scintillation counter. The activity concentrations of 226Ra in sampled water varied from 125 to 452 mBq L−1 with an average of 276 ± 40 mBq L−1. The committed effective dose from each of the 226Ra activity concentrations found in samples ranged from 9.80 × 10−5 to 4.0 × 10−3 mSv for hydropinic treatments being carried out in San Diego de Alcala thermal spring spas. Different treatments had different intake rates (200, 600, 1,000, and 1,500 mL d−1) and occurred over periods of 2 or 3 wk. According to the guidelines of the US Environmental Protection Agency, the maximum permissible amount of radium in drinking water is 185 mBq L−1; the 226Ra content in most of the collected samples exceeded this limit. The committed effective doses varied with 226Ra concentration and intake rate; none exceeded the World Health Organization’s reference dose for drinking water of 0.1 mSv y−1, which is the maximum amount to which the population should be exposed.

1Departamento de Investigación y Posgrado, Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Mexico

2Departamento de Ciencias Básicas, Instituto Tecnológico de Chihuahua II, Mexico

3Unidad Académica de Estudios Nucleares, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Mexico

4Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones, Forestales, Agrícola y Pecuaria, Chih. Mexico.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact Fernando Mireles-García, Unidad Académica de Estudios Nucleares, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Ciprés 10, Fracc. La Peñuela, Zacatecas, ZAC, C.P. 98068, Mexico, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 25 January 2019).

Online date: April 23, 2019

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society