Uranium in Water

Source of Uranium in Water: Uranium (U) is a naturally occurring metal. 
Since uranium is naturally occurring, people can be exposed to it through soil, food, and drinking water. Elevated levels of uranium can cause health problems, so the EPA has set the maximum contaminant level at 15 pCi/L for the presence of uranium in municipal water supplies. Decaying uranium produces radon, another dangerous contaminant. Elevated levels of uranium in drinking water may be due to higher naturally occurring levels or from uranium mining. Nuclear power plants also use uranium as a fuel, so those around the plants may be at a higher risk for exposure. For a current US map of these sites, check out MSNBC's map of US nuclear plants.

Symptoms of Uranium: Even though uranium has not been listed as a carcinogen, it can raise people's risk of cancer. Elevated levels of exposure have also been shown to cause kidney damage and kidney disease, particularly in those with lowered immune systems. Uranium can also accumulate in the bones in the same way that radium does. 

Filtration Solutions for Uranium: Whole house filtration methods are not needed for water contaminated with uranium, as showering in the water will not put the person at risk. Instead, point of use systems should be used to filter drinking water. Uranium can be reduced by both cation or anion exchange filters dependent upon its state. Reverse osmosis systems will reduce uranium by 95 to 98%. Activated alumina can also be utilized, as well as water distillation. 


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