What is tritium?
• It readily forms water when exposed to oxygen and almost always is found as “tritiated” water. It primarily enters the body when people swallow tritiated water. People also may inhale tritium as a gas in the air or absorb it through their skin.
• Once tritium enters the body, it quickly disperses and is uniformly distributed.
• As with all ionizing radiation, exposure to tritium increases the risk of developing cancer. However, tritium is one of the least dangerous radionuclides because it emits very weak radiation and leaves the body relatively quickly. Since tritium almost always is found as water, it goes directly into soft tissues and organs. The associated dose to these tissues generally is uniform and dependent on the tissues’ water content.
• People are exposed to small amounts of tritium every day. It is widely dispersed in the environment and in the food chain.