Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content

Important Facts for Uranium in Community Drinking Water Systems

Definition

The distribution of uranium in drinking water by community water system, population served, and year

Numerator

The distribution of uranium in drinking water by community water system, population served, and year

Denominator

Not applicable

Why Is This Important?

Uranium is present in nearly all rocks and soils. Some parts of the United States, particularly the West, have higher-than-average uranium levels due to natural geological formations. Man-made sources of uranium include uranium mining and milling, uranium conversion and enrichment, uranium fuel fabrication, nuclear weapons production, production of phosphate fertilizers from phosphate rocks containing uranium, and the improper disposal of uranium mine tailings. The general population is exposed to uranium via ingestion of food and drinking water and inhalation of air, with food being the primary contributor to body burden. The daily intake of uranium from food sources ranges from 0.6 to 1.0 pCi/day (0.9--1.5 g/day). Uranium levels in drinking water vary widely, with a mean population-weighted average of 0.8 pCi/L. Compared to the ingestion route, the intake of uranium via inhalation is small; intakes range from 0.0007 to 0.007 pCi/day (0.001--0.01 g/day). Since uranium is weakly radioactive, it has been assumed to be potentially carcinogenic at occupational levels by NIOSH. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has no classification for uranium. Cancer is not usually a result of exposure to naturally occurring uranium. However, health studies have shown large amounts of uranium can cause kidney damage. It is currently not known whether children differ from adults in their susceptibility to the health effects of uranium exposure.

How Are We Doing?

In order to determine the quality of water provided by community water supplies in New Jersey, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) require mandatory, regular monitoring of treated water delivered to the public. Test results are compared to standards for drinking water quality called maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), the maximum permissible level of a contaminant in public drinking water based on information on health effects, treatment, analytical methods and contaminant occurrence. A complete list of the regulated contaminants and the maximum permissible concentrations allowed in drinking water are listed on NJDEP's website at: [https://www.state.nj.us/dep/watersupply/pdf/dw-standards.pdf] In New Jersey between 2010 and 2020, the majority of community water systems reported uranium concentrations at less than 5 ug/L. During each of those years, few systems annually reported uranium levels in drinking water that exceeded the MCL of 30 ug/L.

What Is Being Done?

Public water suppliers are required by law to monitor for regulated contaminants based on type of water system and water source, and ensure the water meets state and federal Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). The test results are sent to the NJDEP. If the level of any regulated contaminant is above the MCL, additional samples are taken to confirm that a problem exists. The supplier of that water is then required to eliminate the problem by changing to another water source or by improving water treatment. The NJDEP inspects community drinking water systems and evaluates their monitoring reports for compliance with the standards. Noncompliance with a standard can result in a violation. NJDEP works with systems to ensure they notify the public and return to compliance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) MCL of 30ug/L for uranium was adopted in December 2003.
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site (https://nj.gov/health/shad). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Tue, 23 April 2024 13:24:24 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: https://nj.gov/health/shad ".

Content updated: no date