Uranium is increasingly seeping into drinking water of western American states. Though uranium is commonly used in nuclear power plants, it might be the drought that’s to blame.
Drinking water is contaminated by increasing amounts of uranium. The naturally occurring substance is turning the water in western American states like California toxic. The substance is known to cause cancer and birth defects, as well as other life-threatening ailments, if it enters the body. An investigation conducted by Associated Press first revealed the shocking condition of drinking water that comes out of your tap. Those who are living near farms and irrigation centers are at elevated risk of uranium consumption through potable water.
Uranium is abundantly found in the mountains. However, it enters the water supplies through an unexpected byproduct of irrigation, drought, and over-pumping of groundwater, reported ABC News. The investigation revealed that the authorities aren’t doing enough and may even be misleading people about the rapidly rising health risk stemming from consumption of contaminated water.
Authorities have posted notices on the doors of residents at a trailer park in California’s San Joaquin Valley, reported Ask Men. The notices do attempt to alert the locals that their drinking water is unsafe. However, these notices haven’t been formulated keeping in mind the target audience. The notices at the irrigated orchards that help make California’s San Joaquin Valley the richest farm region in the world mention that there’s a danger in the drinking water. Many are puzzled over the awkwardly worded notices that are in English, reported CBS. Though the law mandates the park’s owners to post the warnings, they aren’t composed correctly, creating more confusion than clearing any.
Only a handful of the park’s dozens of Spanish-speaking families can read, let alone understand English, said 16-year-old Giselle Alvarez, one of the few English-speakers in the community of farmworkers:
“It says you can drink the water — but if you drink the water over a period of time, you can get cancer. They really don’t explain.”
Many of the working-class families have no option other can consuming the tap water that’s increasingly tainted by uranium. Many of the families, who haven’t been able to truly understand the gravity of the contamination, continue to cook with the unsafe water.
While exposure to radioactive material is always extremely dangerous and people are aware of the same, knowledge about the presence of uranium in drinking water and its pitfalls isn’t common. Drinking contaminated water for long periods of time, can damage kidneys and substantially raise risk of cancer, reported Yahoo. There is a misconception that only radioactive uranium, the one that is used in power plants and atom bombs, can harm biology, is increasingly threatening lives.
During independently conducted tests, two of five wells in California were found to contain dangerous levels of uranium, which warranted immediate cessation of consumption. However, one in four families in the area near Fresno was found to be drinking contaminated water without knowing it. Additionally, one in 10 public water systems tested high for the chemical, according to the investigation.
It is alarming to note that uranium is showing up in water near farming regions in the western United States, exposing about two million people in in California and in the U.S. Midwest, who live dangerously close from groundwater containing dangerous uranium levels, according to University of Nebraska researchers.
It is strongly believed that, apart from snowmelt, which brings down uranium to the flatlands from the mountains, the substance is brought up due to excessive year-long irrigation and the need for drinking water in the drought-struck region. As deeper bore wells are dug, substances like uranium will enter the water supplies, say experts.
What’s concerning about uranium contamination is the very low levels of awareness. Farmers in California still continue to grow crops, vegetables and fruits, apart from drinking the contaminated water.
[Photo by Peter Cade / Getty Images, Thanasis Zovoilis / Getty Images, Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]