Survival tips: Out of bottled water? Drinking water contaminated? Here is what to do …
Let’s assume you went to several stores and all of them are out of bottled water – what you can do to still lower the radiotoxicity from your drinking water by a simple trick that costs nothing.
Here is what you need to know and what you can do even if you can’t buy bottled water anymore to lower your or your child’s exposure to iodine radioactivity considerably.
What you can do in all regions where contamination is still low or where the drinking water is still uncontaminated but likely to become contaminated soon and bottled water is scarce or sold out or you expect it to be so in the near future or even if water is already too contaminated for immediate consumption:
- Get some food-grade (i.e. clean and with no substances in it that could seep into the water; like polyethylene or glass bottles, empty water bottles you have not yet returned etc.) containers and fill them with tap water. Store in a cool, preferably dark place. Since this costs you almost nothing and can be used again anyhow even if nothing untoward happens, stock as much as you can if you fear this scarcity to last or increase.
If you have spare bathtub and the plug seals well, why not fill that one too, esp. if you still have a second bath room or shower? Put some cover (foil) over it to stop dust falling in.
- If your water is already contaminated and you expect or experience shortages of uncontaminated bottled water, you can still stretch your water reserves in the following way:
a) Get as much clean tap water as before in #1).
b) Store as long as you can afford not to use it (for drinking), then always use stored water instead of fresh water.
c) Refill all emptied containers again with fresh tap water, store them at the furthest end of your stash (label them with date and time) and always repeat using the “oldest” water. “Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat” – don’t forget to relabel and use the oldest first always.
Reasons: We assume that the main contamination from Fukushima at this time will be radioactive iodine-131 esp. from rainfall that got into the wells and feeders of your water utility. Even if the iodine production at the reactors has stopped its environmental levels may still increase considerably.
Radioactive iodine-131 is highly radiotoxic esp. for your thyroid gland resulting in an increased risk of thyroid cancer. This being the case, iodine-131 has a half-life of only about eight days. So, whatever the initial amount of iodine-131 at the time you filled your respective bottle, it will contain only half the amount of harmful iodine after the first eight days, a quarter only after the next 8 days or then 16 days in total, only one thousandth of iodine radioactivity after eighty days (ten half-lives or “two to the power of ten” = 1,024) and so forth.
So if you manage to “rotate” your bottles in, say, a three-week cycle, your iodine contamination will almost only be one eighth of what originally came out of the spigot; after 32 days or about a month it will be only one sixteenth!
This method won’t help with other contaminants such as caesium unfortunately, as these have far longer half-lives (Cs-137 e.g. is over 30 years), so to avoid these you need to either get bottled water from a reliable source/brand or use distillation as mentioned.
And good luck …
For a full overview of water options go to our post
Dangers, Properties, possible Uses and Methods of Purification of radioactively contaminated (drinking) Water (e.g. in Japan)
A German version can be found here/Die deutsche Version finden Sie hier: