Uranium in Nebraska's groundwater - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Uranium in Nebraska's groundwater

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Posted By: Laurann Robinson

lrobinson@klkntv.com

A new University of Nebraska-Lincoln study is making headlines… It has some people thinking about groundwater and their health.

The UNL study says tests from the High Plains aquifer under Nebraska, and several other Midwest states, contains uranium levels that are up to 89 times higher than Environmental Protection Agency’s standards.

"There is this potential for drinking water, as well as irrigation water, to become contaminated with uranium in the presence of nitrate," said Karrie Weber, assistant professor with UNL’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

The study says nitrates, which comes from fertilizers and animal waste, works its way thru the soil and can convert uranium from a solid state to a soluble form that can contaminate groundwater.

High levels of uranium in water has been linked to effect bones, kidneys as well as increase cancer risks.

Weber adds, "uranium is toxic, not just as a radioactive element, but also just as a metal."

The team is still searching for answers on how to eliminate the problem. but Weber says, controlling the nitrates we put in the ground is a start.

"If we can control nitrate, that would also control uranium concentrations in ground water."

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