It should not be confused with heavy water, which is deuterium oxide.Tritiated water can be used to measure the total volume of water in one's body.As with any industrial facility, a nuclear power plant may inadvertently spill or leak liquid material.However, the plant design and the NRC's inspection program both help ensure safety limits will be met – even in abnormal situations. Additional resources and references related to tritium are listed at the end of this backgrounder.Any shortfalls can trigger more intensive NRC oversight of a plant. The task force’s findings and the NRC's response are available on the NRC website at Groundwater Contamination (Tritium) at Nuclear Plants.
Tritiated water contains the radioactive hydrogen isotope tritium.As a low energy beta emitter with a half-life of about 12 years, it is not dangerous externally because its beta particles are unable to penetrate the skin.However, it is a radiation hazard when inhaled, ingested via food or water, or absorbed through the skin. It is also used as a tracer for water transport studies in life-science research.Furthermore, since it naturally occurs in minute quantities, it can be used to determine the age of various water-based liquids, such as vintage wines.