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Get Informed | Uranium

What is Uranium?

Uranium is a silvery gray metal that is rather common in the Earth's crust, more common than silver or gold. The two most common isotopes are Uranium-238 (U-238) and Uranium-235 (U-235); 99.3% of all uranium is U-238. U-235 is fissionable, i.e., can be used in a standard nuclear reactor to produce energy, whereas, U-238 is considered fertile because the neutron energy release from the fission of U-235 can be used in a breeder reactor to convert U-238 into Plutonium-239 which is also fissionable.

Sources of uranium in our environment are associated with naturally-occurring uranium present in groundwater and surface water and the environment. High concentrations of uranium may be associated with mining activities, uranium processing facilities, and nuclear power plants.

Uranium is present in black shale gas formations and other phosphate-rich sedimentary deposits weathered from igneous and some metamorphic rock and some older limestone deposits. USGS Publication on Uranium in Carbonate Rocks.

How Does Uranium Become a problem?

Baseline or background levels of uranium are generally considered not harmful. Uranium does not tend to bioaccumulate in the food chain and when consumed it is removed from the body in the urine and fecal material. When Uranium decays, its daughters, including isotopes of thorium, radium, and radon, release both alpha and beta particles and gamma rays. The radiation from uranium can impact the kidneys and reproductive system and cause cancer. Uranium becomes more of a risk if it is consumed. Aside from the detrimental health effects from the radiation generated by uranium and its daughters, uranium is also chemically toxic.

What are the Health Risks for Uranium?

Uranium can impact the kidneys (chemical toxicity) and reproductive system and cause cancer (radiological toxicity).

What are the Standards for Uranium?

The EPA MCL level is 0.03 mg/L or approximately 20 pCi/L, but the MCLG is zero and the EPA DWEL is 0.02 mg/L. The EPA confirms it is a human carcinogen.  Canada has a standard of 0.02 mg/L and WHO has a standard of 0.015 mg/L. California and Wisconsin have standards in units of pCi/L, i.e., 20 and 40 pCi/l, respectively.

Get Tested | Uranium

If you live near a uranium mine, phosphate mine (uranium has an affinity for phosphate), hazardous waste site, industries that use radioactive material, geological materials that contain naturally-occurring radioactive material (NORM), materials classified as TENORM (technology enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material), solids from industrial waste processing, oil and gas brines and well cuttings, or you are exposed to the decay products of uranium such as radium or radon, you should consider testing your water for uranium.

"It is widely known that uranium was used in the glaze of orange-red Fiesta dinnerware, but uranium glazes have also been used on other types of ceramics: wall and floor tiles, pottery, laboratory ceramics, vaseline glass, etc. The glaze can serve two functions: it provides color (yellowish green), and it seals the ceramic. The use of uranium in ceramic glazes ceased during World War II and didn’t resume until 1959. In 1987, NCRP Report 95 indicated that no manufacturers were using uranium-glaze in dinnerware." (Source)

Contamination of treated "city water", i.e., a community water supply system or a non-transient non-community system, by radionuclides is not likely because the EPA and state agencies require that the raw water sources be tested and standard water treatment processes would reduce the level of naturally-occurring radionuclides prior to entering the distribution system.

Level 1 | Observational Self-Testing

Level 1 Testing is done with simple observations that an individual can make with their own senses such as sight, smell, and taste. These observations can be readily apparent or can be observed as they change over time. In addition, accessible related information about the home can also be used to narrow down the cause of your water issues.

Notes on Level 1 Testing for Uranium

Since the warning signs of an issue with uranium are very limited,  the best approach is to learn about the historic land-uses in your region, review if radon is a concern for your area (EPA Radon Map),  and understand the local geology.  As part of Level 2,  you may want to consider having a "hair analysis" completed. If you are located in Zone 1 Radon Area, you should consider testing for radionuclides in your drinking water.

Observations for Uranium

The self-screening tests would include the following:

  • Are you located in an area with elevated radon (Zone 1)  in air and your water is from a local spring or well?
  • Are you located in an area where your deep water well is influenced by saline / brine water or potentially vulnerable to a mining operation, oil/gas development, coal or coal ash, power plants using coal, geologic region with NORM in local bedrock, phosphate mining, or landfill?


You should test your water for uranium if previous water quality tests showed an elevated level of radon, beta particles, radium, or strontium.

Interesting article about natural Radioactivity in Groundwater.

Level 1 | Self-Test Web App
To do a quick and easy self diagnosis of your water, click the button below.
Launch

Level 2 | Do-It-Yourself Testing

Level 2 Testing is Do-It-Yourself testing that can be done in your own home using a Testing Kit. After you’ve done Level 1 Testing, Level 2 Testing can confirm if your observations are correct. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment (see below) or continue to Level 3 Testing.

Notes on Level 2 Testing for Uranium

There is no real low-cost meter or at-home test you can do yourself to check the level of NORM in your drinking water, but there are meters that can be used to check your food and air in your home, and mail order kits to check the level of uranium and a relatively low-cost long-term radon tracker such as the Accustar Alpha Tracker.

Recommended Level 2 Tests
National Testing LabsWater Check Deluxe

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View
AmazonTwo-Pack: Accustar Alpha Track Test Kit AT 100 (long-term)

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>

View
AmazonSeychelle 1-40401-W Radiological Family Water Pitcher

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If alpha concentration is less than 5 pCi/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If beta concentration is less than 4 millirems/year</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit.</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
AmazonSeychelle Stainless Steel Water Bottle

<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
Filter WaterFW-210 Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis System (Code A27AC)

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
AmazonUkoke RO75GP 6 Stages Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System, NSF/ANSI 58 & IAPMO Platinum Seal Certified

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If the alpha concentration is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the betadosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Final Barrier After Treatment Implemented</div>

View
Recommended Products
National Testing LabsL3-NATE-W-2 | WaterCheck Deluxe

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View
AmazonL3-AMAZ-T-02 | Two-Pack: Accustar Alpha Track Test Kit AT 100 (long-term)

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>

View
AmazonST-AMAZ-S-01 | Seychelle 1-40401-W Radiological Family Water Pitcher

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If alpha concentration is less than 5 pCi/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If beta concentration is less than 4 millirems/year</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit.</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
AmazonST-AMAZ-S-02 | Seychelle Stainless Steel Water Bottle

<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
Filter WaterST-FILT-F-03 | FW-210 Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis System

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
AmazonLT-AMAZ-U-01 | Ukoke RO75GP 6 Stages Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System, NSF/ANSI 58 & IAPMO Platinum Seal Certified

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If the alpha concentration is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the betadosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Final Barrier After Treatment Implemented</div>

View

Level 3 | Informational Testing

Level 3 Testing is done through an accredited Water Testing Laboratory. With Level 3 Testing, you can order a testing kit that is used to prepare your sample and submit it to the lab. By utilizing a lab, you have the assurance that a certified water expert had analyzed your water sample. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment options (see below) or continue to Level 4 Testing - Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 3 Testing for Uranium

There are a few high-quality low-cost informational water testing kits for documenting the level of uranium in your water, but at a minimum we suggest checking the level of uranium, alpha particles, and beta emitters. If your home has a radon issue, we also suggest testing the radon level in your water.  If you have never had your water tested for general water quality we would recommend the National Testing Lab Well Water Check Deluxe that includes "Uranium".  If you had the general water quality tested, we would recommend the National Testing Lab Standard Radiological Kit.

If you never tested the radon level in your home, the first step should be to document the level of radon in your indoor air (see Level 2 above for do-it-yourself tests).

For a more detailed assessment when you are concerned about man-made sources of radiation and other radioactive isotopes, we recommend the Tap Score Ext. Radiological Testing which is a comprehensive test that includes Radium-226 and Radium-228.

Recommended Level 3 Tests
National Testing LabsWater Check Deluxe

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View
AmazonTwo-Pack: Accustar Alpha Track Test Kit AT 100 (long-term)

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>

View
AmazonSeychelle 1-40401-W Radiological Family Water Pitcher

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If alpha concentration is less than 5 pCi/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If beta concentration is less than 4 millirems/year</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit.</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
AmazonSeychelle Stainless Steel Water Bottle

<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
Filter WaterFW-210 Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis System (Code A27AC)

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
AmazonUkoke RO75GP 6 Stages Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System, NSF/ANSI 58 & IAPMO Platinum Seal Certified

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If the alpha concentration is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the betadosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Final Barrier After Treatment Implemented</div>

View

Level 4 | Certified Testing

A Level 4 Certified Test Test uses chain-of-custody with a water professional coming to your home to prepare the water sample and then works with an accredited laboratory in order to certify your test results. This type of testing not only gives you the highest level of assurance in the accuracy of your test results, but can also be used as a document in legal cases. For Baseline Testing, we recommend that you use Certified Testing.

Level 4 | Certified Baseline Testing

If you are considering certified baseline testing for radionuclides, it is critical to understand what you believe is the source of the "contamination". Is the source natural or artificial, is it a NORM or a TENORM (technology enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material) ? If the source is linked to a permitted activity, such as a mining operation, natural gas development, coal processing plant, or landfill, it may be necessary to test for other water quality parameters that are related to the source and we strongly recommend ordering at least a Neighborhood Environmental Report or an EDR Report with Geocheck.

Get Treatment | Uranium

For a general guidance on water treatment for radionuclides, we recommend reviewing the EPA Treatment review web portal. From this resource, the possible water treatment options include: Ion Exchange, Reverse Osmosis (RO/POU RO), lime softening, activated alumina, and coagulation/flocculation. The treatment processes more commonly used by large regulated water systems include lime softening and coagulation/flocculation.

To develop a water treatment system for uranium it is necessary to understand the source of the radiation. The first step would be a comprehensive water quality test and determination if there are any natural or man-influenced sources of radiation that could be mitigated. In addition, it may be wise to treat your water for gross alpha even if it is below the MCL. Please remember the maximum contaminant level goal is zero. Depending on the form of the radiation, it may be possible to remove uranium through anion exchange, activated alumina, and/or Reverse Osmosis. Anion exchange resins can be used to remove up to 95% for negative ions like radium, whereas anion exchange resins, iron oxides, and activated alumina can reduce about 90+ % of uranium. (Source)

Short Term Treatment

Because uranium decays and gives off both alpha and beta radiation, a portion of the radiation can penetrate human skin but also enter the body through inhalation and consumption. The primary recommendation for relatively low levels of exposure is to develop an alternative potable water source including for bathing. Even though bathing and showering with water containing relatively low levels of uranium are not considered a health risk, it may be advisable to install some point-of-use granular-activated-carbon (GAC) filtration system, but these systems are not reliable when it comes to uranium. The primary issue with GAC is that radiation decay by-products will accumulate on the filter and become a source of radiation and create a disposal problem. There appears to be a number of point-of-use devices that will remove up to 99.99% of radiological contamination and devices that have been approved by NSF for Radium reduction. Therefore, our primary recommendation is to seek advice from a local professional.

Recommended Short-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If alpha concentration is less than 5 pCi/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If beta concentration is less than 4 millirems/year</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit.</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If the alpha concentration is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the betadosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Final Barrier After Treatment Implemented</div>

View
Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

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Long Term Treatment

Depending on the level of uranium, the system could be an anion exchange resin or an activated-alumina system with a final barrier being a reverse osmosis treatment system. (Source) If you noticed, we used the words could and depending, because the proper system depends on your specific conditions. Your specific conditions require a detailed water quality analysis and working with a professional to develop a long-term solution.

Recommended Long-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Test is for Air Quality</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If alpha concentration is less than 5 pCi/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If beta concentration is less than 4 millirems/year</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit.</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If the alpha concentration is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the betadosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226+ Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Final Barrier After Treatment Implemented</div>

View
Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

Not Up for A DIY: Need Help Identifying a Local KnowYourH20 Team Professional. Contact Us

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