Uranium in water: drinking water analysis reveals the real threat
Contrary to popular opinion, the risk posed by uranium in drinking water is not due to the heavy metal's radioactivity. In fact, the real danger lies in its chemical toxicity. Uranium is only mildly radioactive. Even so, it has a toxic effect on the human body when high doses are ingested over a long period of time.
How does uranium end up in drinking water?
Uranium is a heavy metal and is present in various mineral compounds, for example in rocks. We are exposed to uranium on a daily basis because it is present in the soil as well as in the air and water.
Ground or spring water that percolates through uranium-bearing rock strata absorbs the heavy metal. Depending on the concentration of uranium in the rock, between one and one hundred micrograms per litre of the toxic heavy metal can enter our drinking water. The process by which uranium gets into groundwater and surface water is practically inevitable, meaning the heavy metal enters the drinking water supply.
Agriculture as a cause of uranium in drinking water
Uranium that is detected in drinking water is largely of natural origin. However, naturally occurring uranium is not the only type responsible for this aspect of water quality. Fertilisers containing uranium are also used in agriculture. The mineral phosphate fertilisers are applied to fields by the ton, and in the process some of the fertiliser, including the uranium, enters the groundwater and subsequently ends up in drinking water.
Uranium in mineral water
If a mineral spring is located in areas with higher levels of natural radioactivity, the water obtained from this source may exhibit a high concentration of the radioactive element. Furthermore, the uranium levels in one variety of mineral water can fluctuate due to the fact that water is frequently drawn from different wells which may be miles apart. If the water is mixed when bottled, different bottles may contain varying concentrations of uranium. Food labelling regulations do not apply to uranium in mineral water, so water analysis results can only be obtained from the manufacturer.
Fluctuating levels of uranium in tap water too
Uranium levels in tap water can fluctuate in tap water as well as in mineral water. The values which are made available to the authorities are taken from measurements carried out at each source. However, the measurements do not have to match those taken by the end user at the tap, because the water is mixed with water from other sources on its way to the water supply. A detailed request to the relevant water company or a home testing kit for uranium can provide reliable information. With the help of the Uranium Water Analysis, you can quickly and confidently determine if the prescribed values for uranium in water are being adhered to.
Tip: to determine the concrete level of uranium in your drinking water, one option is to request information from your local water company. However, if you would like to know the uranium content of the water that comes out of your tap, this can easily be discovered using our water analysis kit.
Dangers caused by uranium in drinking water
The regulations state that drinking water in the UK has to be of a certain quality so as not to be a danger to human health. Experts recommend that water declared "suitable for infants" have a maximum of 2 micrograms of uranium per litre. Uranium can be stored in the bones, particularly when it is ingested orally. Furthermore, kidney, lung and liver function can be impaired. Children and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk.
Reduce uranium levels
Waterworks frequently use special filters to reduce the concentration of heavy metals. Households too can process the drinking water themselves with the help of appropriate filter systems. The Natural Mineral, Spring Water and Bottled Water Regulations (2007) stipulate that mineral water must not be subjected to chemical treatment. Hence, the only way manufacturers can decrease the concentration of uranium in their mineral water is to mix it with spring water that contains less uranium.
Drinking water analysis for uranium: a way for consumers to stay on the safe side
Our special drinking water tests provide information about the amounts of contaminants present in the water. The concentration of uranium can be detected too. Even if drinking water in the UK is subject to strict legal regulations and is generally safe, monitoring the quality of your drinking water with a water analysis gives you peace of mind and allows you to drink, shower and cook without worrying.