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What are NORM and TENORM?

Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) is radioactive material present in the environment; (i.e., soils, air and water) that is not man-made. NORM includes uranium (U), radium (Ra), and thorium (Th) and they emit low levels of naturally occurring radiation. NORM can be found everywhere. Since these materials are found in the natural environment, NORM is exempted from regulation by the State of Ohio.

When NORM is used for commercial purposes, processed, separated, or in some other manner has its radioactivity concentrated (intentionally or unintentionally), it becomes another category of radioactive material called Technologically Enhanced Radioactive Material (TENORM), which is regulated by the Ohio Department of Health. TENORM is the same group of NORM radionuclides, but it has been modified or “technologically enhanced” resulting in a man-made concentration higher than NORM.

What Are Common Examples of NORM?

  • Radon gas that homeowners may detect in basements and living spaces;
  • Potassium-40 in all plants and animals, including humans;    
  • Uranium and thorium and their decay products commonly found in stone work, including granite, marble and limestone;
  • Radium in deep drinking water aquifers that causes additional burdens to water treatment plants;
  • Uranium while it is still in the ground, before it is mined and processed into fuel rods for use in nuclear reactors.  

What Are Common Examples of TENORM?

  • Phosphate fertilizers;
  • Coal industry wastes including fly ash, bottom ash and slag;
  • Oil and gas industry wastes including scale and sludges;
  • Water treatment plant wastes including sludges and resin filtration systems;
  • Metal mining and processing wastes; and
  • Geothermal energy production wastes

TENORM Publications

Mailing Address:
Ohio Department of Health
Bureau of Environmental Health and Radiation Protection 
Radioactive Materials Licensing and Inspection Program
246 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Telephone: (614) 644-2727
Fax: (614) 466-0381
E-mail: Bradiation@odh.ohio.gov   


Updated 11/19/2018