Tags: uranium | drinking water | california | central plains

Uranium in Drinking Water Puts California, Central Plains at Risk

Image: Uranium in Drinking Water Puts California, Central Plains at Risk

An irrigation pipe drips water on a ranch in Kern County as California suffers through its fourth year of a catastrophic drought. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

By    |   Wednesday, 09 Dec 2015 07:14 AM

Uranium in increasing levels has been discovered in drinking water throughout California's central farm valleys, but the government has done little to warn the public about the risks. Some areas of the U.S. Central Plains are also affected.

The rise in uranium is a byproduct of irrigation, California's devastating drought, and from over-pumping of natural underground water reserves, said the Associated Press.

Long-term exposure to uranium can lead to kidney damage and an increased risk of cancer, said the AP,  and a U.S. Geological Survey study found that one in 10 public water wells had raw drinking water with uranium levels surpassing federal and state safety standards.

A University of Nebraska study released in August found that nearly two million people in California and the Great Plans live above water sources that have been contaminated by natural uranium. The study's data came from some 275,000 groundwater samples from aquifers in those areas.

KFSN-TV reported that uranium is naturally found in the soil in California, but a federal survey found that one-in-four water wells in the central valley region of the state could be contaminated by uranium.

"It's not something that has a taste or an odor or anything so you can't see it, you can't smell it, touch it, feel it, or what not," said Chad Fischer, an engineer with the California Water Resources Control Board. "If it's important to them, I 100-percent implore people with private wells to go ahead and get their water tested."

Uranium is used in nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons, noted the EPA. It is also used in small amounts in photography for toning, in the leather and wood industries for stains and dyes, and in the silk and wood industries.

"It needs to be recognized that uranium is a widespread contaminant," said University of Nebraska researcher Karrie Weber. "And we are creating this problem by producing a primary contaminant that leads to a secondary one."

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Uranium in increasing levels has been discovered in drinking water throughout California's central farm valleys, but the government has done little to warn the public about the risks. Some areas of the U.S. Central Plains are also affected.
uranium, drinking water, california, central plains
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2015-14-09
Wednesday, 09 Dec 2015 07:14 AM
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