Does your water contain uranium?
Since the huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan we have all become ultra aware of what is in the air we breathe, what is in the food we eat, and now what is in the water we drink. Currently if people go to the grocery store to buy fish they are asking to see if it comes from Japan and not buying it unless it’s from somewhere else. There are radiation monitors all over the United States that are measuring the radiation in the air we are breathing to see if those levels change over any given day or week. Concern over these matters also brings to the forefront the matter of possible contaminants in our drinking water.
Keeping in mind the radiation mentioned above was from a nuclear plant reactor, did you know that uranium is used mainly as fuel in nuclear power stations? Uranium is also present in nature; in fact, it is widespread, occurring in granite rocks and other mineral deposits. It leaches from natural deposits, is released in mill tailings in mining, is an emission from nuclear industry, and is used in phosphate fertilizers. Uranium isn’t known as an inhaled toxin, it is an ingested toxin. Thus the concern over uranium in drinking water is a very real concern.
Most people are aware that drinking water should be tested every so often to see what contaminants are present in it. We can only remove the contaminants we know exist and we will only know how to remove them if we know what they are as well. Some contaminants require filtering to be removed, some require ion exchange to treat the water to remove them and some require chemicals to remove them. It is very important to know what contaminants we are dealing with before simply trying to remove whatever might be present.
Health Canada says that water that contains more than 0.02 mg/L or 0.02 parts per million should not be consumed though it can be used for washing and other purposes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been working to determine safe levels of uranium and in a 2011 document they suggest that 0.03 mg/L or 0.03 parts per million may be a conservative level. The WHO mentions however that “the guideline value for uranium remains provisional because of the difficulties in identifying an exposure level at which effects might be expected from scientific data”. Basically the effects of ingesting high levels of uranium may be associated with an increased risk of kidney damage. However, exposure to soluble uranium in drinking water has not been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that the additional lifetime risk associated with drinking water that contains uranium at the concentration allowed in a public water supply is about 1 in 10,000. This means that if 10,000 persons were to consume two liters of this water per day for 70 years, one additional fatal cancer in the 10,000 people exposed might occur. While those stats aren’t necessarily alarming, they are figured for water with levels allowed according to the EPA, not for water with levels exceeding the recommended limits. Therefore it is necessary to have your water tested to know for certain what is in it and at what levels.
The great news about this situation is that uranium can be physically removed from household water supplies with specifically designed filtration systems. We don’t have to begin buying bottled water or abandon the household well. We simply have to be informed about what it takes to remove the contaminants we have and then enjoy our water knowing we have done all we can to make it safe.
There are so many water treatment and water filtration systems on the market today to choose from. We have to be informed about what each one does and what it can remove and what it can’t remove. It is important to not be misled about what we require from a system. Uranium and other contaminants can be removed from drinking water using a Point of Use Reverse Osmosis system. WHO reports that reverse osmosis treatment will remove 90-99% of uranium. To fix a uranium problem it is necessary only to treat the water you drink, as uranium exposure is connected only with ingested uranium not inhaled.
It is no longer sensible to simply trust our health to the local water treatment plant. We must take action ourselves and safeguard our own health and that of our family. Home water treatment systems like the reverse osmosis systems are not only available but also economical. Taking time out of our busy schedule to do a little research on the best system for us and the cost of each system can save us a lot of time and energy later on in life. Being healthy now will help us to be healthy in the future as well. It is time to drink to our health.
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