The new study led by Duke University found over extraction of groundwater may be a factor to the widespread uranium groundwater contamination
A new study by Duke University found uranium contamination in groundwater from aquifers in 16 Indian states. The study found that the occurrence of uranium depends on the amount of uranium contained in an aquifer’s rocks, water-rock interaction, oxidation conditions and chemical exchanges. Beyond these initial factors, the researchers found that groundwater sources in India may be more susceptible to uranium contamination due to over extraction of groundwater and the overall lowering of the groundwater table’s level.
Many of India’s aquifers are composed of clay, silt and gravel carried down from Himalayan weathering by streams or uranium-rich granite rocks, Science Daily reports. Over-pumping induces oxidation conditions that enhance uranium enrichment. Nearly a third of all water wells tested at one site in the state of Rajasthan contained uranium levels that exceed the World Health Organization and U.S. EPA’s safe drinking water standards.
“One of the takeaways of this study is that human activities can make a bad situation worse, but we could also make it better,” Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment said.