Contaminants in Drinking Water Wells

Uranium

Uranium is a radioactive element that occurs naturally in soil. It can dissolve in groundwater and seep into wells. This happens mainly in cased wells. Small quantities of uranium are also found
in food, drinking water (when contaminated) and air. Generally, humans are more exposed to the uranium naturally present in foods than the uranium in water.

By Québec standards, the concentration of uranium in drinking water should not exceed 0.02 mg/L.

Health risks

Consumption of water with a high concentration of uranium may cause minor damage to the kidneys. The effects subside progressively once you stop consuming contaminated water. People who have kidney problems or stomach ulcers may be more susceptible to the effects of uranium.

The effects that uranium has on health are due more to its toxic chemical properties than to its level of radioactivity, which is too low to cause health problems.

Protection and Prevention

Your water should be tested for uranium at least once during the period of usage of the well. Testing should be done for other chemical contaminants as well.

If the concentration of uranium in your well exceeds 0.02 mg/L, use another source, or bottled water, to:

  • Drink
  • Prepare beverages
  • Prepare feeding bottles and baby food

 You can use tap water to:

  • Prepare food
  • Wash dishes and clothes
  • Take a shower or bath

Boiling water is pointless because uranium does not evaporate. In fact, doing so can increase the concentration of uranium in the water.

You can install a residential water treatment system to reduce the concentration of uranium in water to an acceptable level. Be sure to install a certified system that conforms to NSF/ANSI standards and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. If you install a residential water treatment system to eliminate uranium from your water, you must verify its effectiveness by testing your water every year.

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