Uranium Contamination in Groundwater

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News:A new study conducted by the University of Manchester and Mahavir Cancer Institute and Research Centre,Bihar has found uranium contaminating the groundwater in 10 districts of Bihar.

Facts:

  • Uranium:It is a mildly radioactive, naturally occurring element that is commonly found in rocks, soil and water.
  • Uses: a) fuel for nuclear power reactors for electricity generation b) manufacture of radioisotopes for medical applications c) nuclear science research among others.
  • Uranium acceptable limit:World Health Organisation(WHO) has set 30 parts per billion as the provisional safe drinking water standard for uranium.
  • Reasons for Uranium Contamination: a) Human factors such as groundwater-table decline b) interaction of the extracted uranium with other chemicals in the groundwater c) Water-rock interactions that cause the uranium to be extracted from those rocks among others.
  • Effects: High uranium level in drinking water is associated with kidney toxicity.

Additional Facts:

Other Pollutants of Groundwater:

  • Arsenic Contamination:: Arsenic is naturally present in the groundwater.But arsenic in inorganic form is highly toxic and can lead to severe heart diseases, cancer and diabetes.
  • Fluoride Contamination:It causes fluorosis which affects the teeth and bones.
  • Nitrate Contamination:It occurs due to open sewage disposal and the use of nitrogen fertilizers which can have potential health effects especially on childrens.