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Could You Be Drinking Uranium?

February 18, 2019
Water Tech

Although many people associate the presence of uranium with nuclear applications, most sources of uranium occur naturally or are released into groundwater through local mining operations.  

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, consuming uranium has been connected to kidney toxicity and an increased risk of cancer. Research over the past decade, including many publications through and/or sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. EPA, have helped to educate the public about the potential existence and concerns of uranium in groundwater in the U.S. However, public awareness remains limited. Additionally, since there are generally no regulations or organizations advocating for the measurement of uranium in private wells, most well owners do not test for uranium, even though a 2015 study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln revealed naturally occurring groundwater uranium exceeding the U.S. EPA MCL across a U.S. area where 1.9 million people live. This data from roughly 275,000 groundwater samples showed that many Americans live less than two-thirds of a mile from wells that often far exceed the uranium guideline set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The good news is that multiple effective methods of treating and removing uranium exist, including anion exchange, reverse osmosis and distillation, so with access to monitoring, well owners can act quickly to protect their health.

ANDalyze’s Sensors: Empowering Awareness and Action

Illinois-based ANDalyze has created a group of new chemical sensors that can detect and quantify heavy metals in water by incorporating the recent discovery of DNA’s catalytic properties with established nanoparticle-reporter technologies. In addition to detecting trace metals in water, the sensors can detect targets including bacteria, viruses and chemicals such as those found in pesticides. One platform is hand-held and can report results within three minutes in the field.

In 2010, groundwater samples were submitted by well owners from different areas of New Mexico (around Española) in a water clinic sponsored by the Good Water Company. These samples were tested on-site with the ANDalyze technology and compared to ICP-MS data obtained at the University of Illinois. Of those tested by ANDalyze, 75 percent of the sample contained uranium concentrations above the EPAs 30ug/L MCL guidelines with some more than five times higher.

Uranium contamination is not just a concern in the US but is a global issue including, but certainly not limited to, India and Australia. This was shown again recently with testing by Optimos Systems (Victoria, Australia) that was performed using ANDalyze, in the Mulga Queen Community, an aboriginal community in Western Australia. Extensive research into unusually high levels of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in remote communities led to concerns that contaminants in the groundwater sourced drinking water may be linked to the high levels of CKD. As the primary/only portable method of uranium measurement, ANDalyze's handheld unit allowed Optimos and a team of researchers from RMIT University, to quickly and easily identify uranium concentrations at five sites.

We cannot ignore the importance of on-site testing. ANDalyze's handheld unit allows users to test every potential water source, locate and rectify the issue, and verify that the issue has been addressed, all within minutes and at a fraction of the cost of current laboratory testing.

This growing interest for measurement of uranium in groundwater is clearly an indication of the expanding health concerns associated with water sources globally and by utilizing the ANDalyze technology we can help to address these dangers quickly, easily and cost effectively.

Source of map: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.estlett.5b00174
Curious if you might be drinking uranium? Drop ANDalyze a line info@andalyze.com

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