Uranium In Water, Will They Glow In The Dark?
I just returned from giving a short seminar at a friend’s real estate agency in Brookfield, CT about water issues that can effect a real estate transaction. I discussed the issues that are the most common problems that pop up during a home inspection, with E. coli contamination of a well being the most common I have encountered. Then the conversation turned to URANIUM in the water. Uranium is showing up in some local wells in the area including Brookfield.
The most important thing to know about uranium in well water is that it is a naturally occurring mineral (metallic) that will occur in many areas that have a good amount of granite in the underground environment. New England is one of those areas. The next most important thing to know about natural occurring uranium is that it is not the radioactive nature of uranium that will make you ill from ingesting it. Natural uranium is not very radioactive and it must be refined to make it radioactive enough to be useful. The problem with ingested uranium is the chemical nature of it. Uranium damages kidneys. One chemist friend told me that it is because it is so large (the uranium molecule) that it clogs the pathways in kidneys. He was a chemist and not a biologist, so I am not sure about his assessment, but it makes sense to me.
Here is a great page from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln about uranium in drinking water: http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/g1569/build/g1569.pdf
No one will glow in the dark from this problem, but it should be addressed.
I prefer two methods to treat uranium in water. The first is an anionic softener system installed to treat all the water in a home. This works on the same principal as a regular water softener, except that the regular water softener uses cationic resin which will remove calcium, magnesium, ferrous iron, and dissolved manganese, among other things. Uranium is removed with anionic resin. It (anionic resin) tends to be more expensive than regular cationic resin, but the actual softening equipment is mostly the same. Of course, since the hardness is not being removed by this device (only the uranium) it is technically not a softener, but it is easier to refer to it this way.
I recommend that even though you will install an anionic softener to remove uranium you also install a reverse osmosis drinking water system to catch as much uranium as possible, since you may occasionally forget to put the regenerate (salt) in the water softener brine vat, or there might be another problem with the water softener. The reverse osmosis system will be a safety device to be more sure of uranium removal. The side benefit is that you will have great tasting, purified water from the reverse osmosis system. It is usually mounted under the sink and a special faucet is mounted near your regular faucet. You will get any water you will ingest (drinking, cooking, and even food washing) from this special tap.