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5.8 226Ra in bottled mineral waters of Hungary
E. Baradács a), Z. Dezso a), I.
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  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.
-  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
|Aqua, Spring water of Mátra Mtn
||Upper Pannonian Upper Oligocene
||Miocene, Badenian stage limestone
||Lower Triassic, Limestone
||Upper Triassic, Limestone
||Upper Triassic Dolomite
||Upper Eocene Limestone
||Upper Triassic, Dolomite
|0.5cm gently carbonated