Uranium in groundwater in Karnataka villages: study

Chemical analysis of groundwater in 73 villages in Karnataka revealed high and dangerous levels of uranium concentration in 78% of these places, according to a new study.

The upper safe limit recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 30 micrograms per liter (μg / l), while the Indian Atomic Energy Regulatory Council has set a higher safe limit of 60 micrograms per liter.

The study by the Divecha Center for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Center for Advanced Research in Environmental Radioactivity, Mangalore University, attributed the contamination to natural causes, not human activity.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 73 villages in the eastern part of the state. They found that 57 villages had a uranium concentration of more than 30 micrograms per liter while 48 of them had a concentration of more than 60 micrograms per liter.

In the latter category are two villages in Bengaluru Urban (Gollahalli and Gottigere) and two in Bengaluru Rural (Avathi and Kodagurki).

Scientists found that the uranium concentration exceeded 1,000 micrograms per liter in one village each of Tumakuru and Chitradurga districts, five in Kolar and seven in Chikkaballapur district. The results were detailed in an article by Current science.

Exposure to uranium can cause health problems. Speaking as an independent expert, Dr Subrata Das, internal medicine specialist and diabetologist at Sakra World Hospital, said side effects are determined by the concentration of uranium ingested by a person.

“The immediate effects are disturbance of the mind, headache, low fever, vomiting. However, long-term exposure, over a period of months to years, leads to cancer of the liver, bone and lungs, ”he said.

The researchers wrote that none of the boreholes from which the water was sampled were near “nuclear facilities or municipal waste disposal channels.”

The reason

The researchers pointed out that the high uranium concentration is a result of the decline in the water table and the geological composition of Karnataka.

Gamma ray spectrometric studies have shown that there is a greater abundance of potassium, uranium and thorium in the eastern part of Karnataka compared to the western part, which geologists call the eastern and western craton of Dharwar. .

“Karnataka, which is mainly composed of ancient granites, gneisses and shale rocks, is called hard rock terrain,” said Dr. R Srinivasan, lead author of the study and visiting professor at the Divecha Center.

“In hard rocks, water occurs in deep fractures and at the top of the saturated zone which usually sits at the base of the weathered zone (soil layer) and constitutes the water table. The thicker the altered zone, the greater the thickness of the oxidized layer. This promotes the oxidation of uranium in minerals.

Bangalore Levels

High radon content from localities in the urban and rural belt of Bengaluru resulted in the detection of high levels of uranium in three villages sampled in the rural district of Bengaluru.

Samples from Avathi village showed high uranium content ranging from 174 to 942 micrograms per liter, while samples from Kodagurki village contained 356 μg / l of uranium, which the researchers say matches observations. made by the Central Ground Water Board.

A sample from Gudla Muddenahalli in the district also contained more uranium than the limit prescribed by the WHO (56).

In Bengaluru Urban, repeated sampling at Gollahalli village revealed that the uranium concentration ranged from 9 to 310 micrograms per liter throughout the year.

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