Researchers document special risk to young children of exposure to uranium in well water
Kidney damage more likely in children who drink uranium-contaminated water
Posted September 17, 2007
A recently-published scientific paper reveals the special sensitivity of young children to toxic uranium in water from private wells. Although this study looked at naturally-occurring uranium, its conclusions would apply to well water contaminated by in-situ leach mining of uranium. Powertech Uranium Corp. proposes to do ISL uranium mining on a large swath of land between Fort Collins, Wellington, Carr, Nunn, and Ault, Colorado. The area is home to many families with young children.
"Uranium can enter the body via inhalation as well as through consumption of contaminated food or water... Ingested uranium is absorbed from the digestive tract and appears initially in the blood, bound to red blood cells. Most is excreted via urine and feces, and experimental studies in humans have shown that about two-thirds of an injected dose of uranium is excreted within the first 24 hr and 75% within 5 days. Retained uranium accumulates initially in the kidneys and liver and then in the skeleton."
"Uranium has the potential to be both chemically and radiologically toxic, but of principal concern in the context of ground-water exposure are the chemical toxic effects of uranium on the kidneys."
"Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to chemical contaminants in drinking water. This heightened vulnerability reflects the disproportionately great water consumption of young children, who drink 7 times as much water per kilogram body weight per day as the average adult. It also reflects the inherent biological vulnerability of the young, which is a consequence of their rapid growth and development and their relative inability to detoxify and excrete many exogenous chemicals."
Grand Rounds: Nephrotoxicity in a Young Child Exposed to Uranium from Contaminated Well Water - Magdo, et al.
Environmental Health Perspectives - August 2007 (pdf) (html)
Toxicological Profile for Uranium - Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry - U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services - September 1999 (pdf) (html)
Northern ore bodies are in Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer