Groundwater extraction in India continues at alarming rates, and the threat of severe depletion of groundwater resources in the coming years is real. As if that weren't enough, the quality of the available groundwater is deteriorating, posing a serious threat to the population's health.
Is India drinks uranium tainted water?
Uranium occurs in shallow aquifers in India, according to the “Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation”, and the country's uranium contamination of groundwater is increasing, with several states reporting increased uranium content in drinking water.
Uranium is extremely toxic to the human body. While water with low levels of uranium is safe to drink, high levels of uranium in food and drinking water can cause serious health problems such as kidney damage.
WHO has established a provisional safe drinking water standard for India of 30 micrograms of uranium per litre, which is consistent with US Environmental Protection Agency standards.
According to the study, human factors such as groundwater depletion and nitrate pollution may be exacerbating the already existing natural uranium contamination to dangerous levels. Several studies have linked drinking water uranium exposure to chronic kidney disease.
Increment in the uranium-levels in India
Many of India's aquifers are made up of clay, silt, and gravel carried down by streams from the Himalayas or uranium-rich granite rocks. When the groundwater in these aquifers is over pumped and the water levels fall, it creates oxidation conditions that enhance uranium enrichment in the shallow groundwater that remains.
While geogenic (naturally occurring) uranium is the primary source, anthropogenic (caused by humans) factors such as groundwater table decline and nitrate pollution may increase uranium mobilization. It suggests factors that may drive high uranium concentrations in groundwater using geochemical and uranium isotope data, such as uranium content in aquifer rocks, oxidation state, and groundwater chemistry that promotes the formation of soluble uranyl carbonate complexes.
These factors include the amount of uranium contained in an aquifer's rocks, water-rock interactions that cause the uranium to be extracted from those rocks, oxidation conditions that increase the extracted uranium's solubility in water; and interactions between the extracted uranium and other chemicals in the groundwater, such as bicarbonate, which can further increase its solubility.
These factors co-occur in many parts of India, resulting in high uranium concentrations in groundwater. Geochemistry and isotopic tools aid in our understanding of the processes and conditions that influence uranium occurrence in groundwater.
Depletion of groundwater
Human activities, particularly over-exploitation of groundwater for agricultural irrigation, could exacerbate the problem. One of the study's key findings is that human activities can exacerbate a bad situation, but they can also improve it.
The need for a revision of India's current water quality monitoring programme, an assessment of human health risks in areas with high uranium prevalence, the development of appropriate remediation technologies, and, most importantly, the implementation of preventive management practices to address this issue is important.
The inclusion of a uranium standard in the Bureau of Indian Standards' Drinking Water Specification based on uranium's kidney-harming effects, the establishment of monitoring systems to identify at-risk areas, and the exploration of new ways to prevent or treat uranium contamination will help ensure safe drinking water for tens of millions of Indians.
How can Netsol Water help?
Netsol Water is a significant water and wastewater treatment firm in India, offering WTP, WWTP, STP, and ETP, Industrial RO, Commercial RO, Water Softeners manufacture, among other services. The company creates equipment and is committed to providing practical solutions that help businesses flourish. We are committed to providing our valued customers with hands-on service, expert counselling, and training. We believe in achieving sustainability and save fresh water resources by re-using wastewater after treatment. Our RO plants can prove useful for Uranium treatment across India.