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5.8   226Ra in bottled mineral waters of Hungary

E. Baradács a), Z. Dezso a), I. Hunyadi

More than two third of Hungary's territory hide huge amount of high temperature artesian and karstic waters in the depth. This phenomenon is a result of two favourable geological component jointly present in the Carpathian Basin. One is that in the Triassic period some thousand metres thick carbonate deposit (successive layers of limestone and dolomite) was formed in the region. In the subsequent periods of the historical geology the earlier deposit karstified, was covered by layers of clay, marl, sand and sandstone, and due to tectonic movements overthrust, lateral displacements, uplift and subsidence of huge carbonate blocks occurred. The other favourable component is the anomalous geothermal gradient of Hungary, which is 15-18 m/°C (50-70 °C/km). This is extremely high even by international comparison, the continental average is 33 m/°C (30 °C/km). The higher water temperature causes a greater quantity of mineral matter to be dissolved, with the result that waters with high levels of minerals and mineral salts are particularly beneficial for health.

Hungarian thermal waters have been used on a large scale for bathing, drinking and medical purposes since centuries, while the consumption of bottled mineral waters is steeply increasing recently. Today, there are nearly 80 wells and springs producing certified natural mineral waters in Hungary, and the water of 21 of these is bottled commercially.

In this work 226Ra content of some commercially available bottled mineral waters, originating from different regions of Hungary, was studied by etched track detector method developed in the Radon Group of the Institute of Nuclear Research [1] and by destructive gamma-spectrometric method developed in the University of Debrecen by Z. Dezso.

The majority of the studied bottled mineral waters have moderate 226Ra activity concentration, as can be seen in Table 1 (next page). According to the aquifers the radium content of the studied waters can be arranged roughly in two groups. It can be seen that mineral waters, which arise from Triassic dolomite and limestone, have higher radium content than those waters, which originate from Upper Pannonian sediment. The highest value exceeded 2 kBq m-3 in the case of the Apenta mineral water, which is a popular brand in Hungary, as well as in Europe and North America. The German owned company which bottle and sell Apenta has lately introduced a radium removal process to avoid consumers from increased health risk due to consumption of this water. The comparison of the applied methods showed good agreement for 226Ra determination in mineral waters.

Acknowledgements This work was supported by OTKA Contract T022985 and T029306.

a) Department of Environmental Physics, University of Debrecen-Atomki, H-4001 Debrecen, POB. 51.

[1] I. Hunyadi et al., Radiat. Meas. 31 (1999) 301-306.

0.5cm Table 1. 226Ra activity concentration [Bqm-3] of Hungarian bottled mineral waters by different analytical methods 0.5cm

Brand name Aquifer 226Ra by 226Ra by
    SSNTD gamma
Bonaqua - 5±2 -
Szentkirályi ásványvíz Upper Pannonian 7±2 13
Aqua, Spring water of Mátra Mtn - 8±2 -
Mineralis 305 - 8±2 -
Parádi Ásványvíz Upper Pannonian Upper Oligocene 10±2 27
Pannon Aqua Upper Pannonian 12±2 13
Borsodi ásványvíz - 19±3 -
Balfi Ásványvíz Miocene, Badenian stage limestone - 85
Theodora Quelle Lower Triassic, Limestone 64±7 77
Óbudai Gyémánt Upper Triassic, Limestone 111±11 110
Visegrádi Ásványvíz Upper Triassic Dolomite 186±18 204
Margitszigeti Kristályvíz Upper Eocene Limestone 451±42 518
Gellérthegyi Kristályvíz Upper Triassic, Dolomite 1135±104 704
0.5cm sparkling   2865±264 2780
0.5cm still Upper Triassic - 2770
0.5cm gently carbonated clastic dolomite 2911±268 2890
0.5cm tonic   - 2450