Some of the U.S. drinking water supply contains unsafe levels of uranium, new research out this month shows. The study analyzed data from the Environmental Protection Agency on drinking water systems across the country and found that uranium was frequently detected during compliance testing, and that a small percentage of systems are estimated to contain levels higher than the maximum allowed by the EPA. These sources of highly contaminated water were more likely to be near semi-urban, Hispanic communities.
Uranium is a metallic and radioactive element. Though it’s often associated with nuclear power, the most common form of uranium is naturally found throughout our environment in small traces, including in soil, water, and air. Our bodies are routinely exposed to minute amounts of uranium as a result, but most of this uranium is thought to pass through our body quickly. High levels of acute uranium exposure can be fatal, however, and chronic low-level exposure has been linked to various health problems, such as a higher risk of kidney and heart damage.