Drinking Water Quality - Uranium
- Drinking Water
- Disinfection Byproducts
- Related Links
Uranium is a naturally-occurring radioactive metal that is found in the environment. It is a type of radionuclide and a natural source of radiation that is present at low levels in the environment in almost all rock, soil, water, plants and animals. Some rock types have higher levels of this naturally occurring element. Most drinking water has low levels of uranium. However, uranium can accumulate in some drinking water at levels of public health concern.
- Did You Know?
- Areas in Central Massachusetts are known to have the highest potential for uranium in drinking water. However, drinking water in any area of Massachusetts may contain uranium.
Ingestion of contaminated drinking water is the major source of exposure to uranium. Bathing and showering is not an exposure concern.
Once contaminated drinking water enters the body, it enters the bloodstream. Most uranium is excreted rapidly, however some may accumulate in bones and kidneys. As a source of radiation, uranium may increase a persons’ risk of developing cancer following long-term exposure at levels above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of .03 mg/L. Long-term exposure may also put an individual at risk for damage to the kidneys, the organ most susceptible to uranium exposure.
- Data Considerations
When reviewing and interpreting drinking water uranium data, it is important to take into consideration the following:
- The data presented are for public water systems only. Residents may have exposure to uranium from private well water.
- Exposure to uranium in drinking water depends upon the concentration of uranium in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
- Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated. Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
- This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community. Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers. Your Community Water System (CWS) should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
- Community Water Systems can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
- Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single .
- For a list of all Massachusetts community public water systems and the communities served, click here (pdf).
- Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Uranium
Click the Explore Maps & Tables link button on this page to access the following measure for uranium in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year.
To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.
- Maximum uranium concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
- Mean uranium concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
- Maximum uranium concentration by Community Water System and year of testing
- Mean uranium concentration by Community Water System and year of testing
- Maximum uranium concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
- Mean uranium concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
- Mean uranium concentration by individual Community Water System or county and year of testing
- Drinking water violations by Community Water System or community and year of violation