Tribune News Service
Amritsar, January 11
A study being conducted at Guru Nanak Dev University pointed to the rising level of uranium in the city’s groundwater table.
According to Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) of India, the permissible limit is 60 microgram per litre whereas the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend the limit to be 30 microgram per litre.
An associate professor of the GNDU, Jaspal Singh, said the WHO has revised its limit from 15 microgram to 30 microgram per litre.
He said, “The deep tube wells in the city of Amritsar and nearby villages are having low uranium contents as compared to the upper-level groundwater tube wells. Its carcinogenic effect can cause spurt in cases of liver and kidney malfunction.”
“We are carrying out this research work for the last many years and the study is still underway. In our recent study of Amritsar, of 142 water samples, 77 were found to have more uranium contents than what was recommended by the AERB and the WHO,” he said.
“While 19 samples have more than 60 microgram per litre, 58 samples above 30 microgram per litre, the parameter set by the WHO and EPA,” he claimed.
Earlier, we have reported high uranium contents in the groundwater of Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot and Ferozpur districts. For the first time, high uranium contents in the groundwater of Bathinda were reported by our group in 1995 from where the whole story began, he said.
In our study carried out in Sri Muktsar Sahib, 72 samples out of 114 had failed to comply the limit prescribed by the AERB and 89 samples could not comply WHO and the EPA norms. The maximum value, so far, that we have observed in this district is about 550 microgram per litre.
As per an earlier joint study ( in 2009) conducted by the GNDU professors of physics department—Harmanjit Singh, Joga Singh, Surinder Singh and BS Bajwa— the uranium concentration in the drinking water samples were collected mainly from hand pumps along the Amritsar to Bhatinda track.
The uranium is a radioactive mineral present in certain types of rocks and soils. Thus, uranium contamination of groundwater comes from the aquifer from which the water is pumped.
Uranium contamination can also result from human activities. It can be released into the environment from various activities such as the use of phosphate fertilizers, mining, and combustion from coal and other fuels.
According to them, the drinking water containing uranium can cause adverse health effects.
“As a result of non-biodegradable nature, the heavy metals, including uranium accumulate in vital human organs. The long term ingestion of uranium and some other heavy metals may increase the risk of kidney damage, cancer and cardiovascular diseases, whereas the experimental evidence suggests that the respiratory and reproductive systems are also affected by uranium exposure,” they said.
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