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Nitrogenous Fertilizers Contaminated Ground Water with Uranium

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

Soil Health Checkup gives the complete range of components available in the soil. With continuous sowing and getting the crops from the soil decreases the minerals in the soil. The need for Nitrogen is most important for the growth of the plants. The Nitrogenous Fertilizer is used to overcome this deficiency but it also contaminated the groundwater. A recent study by the scientist declares the availability of uranium in the groundwater.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers led by Avner Vengosh, Professor of Geochemistry, and water quality at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in the US.

The team, which also included experts from the Central Ground Water Board, the Rajasthan Government’s Ground Water Department, and Gujarat Water Resources Development Corporation, analyzed groundwater samples from 226 locations in Rajasthan and 98 in Gujarat.

Aquifers in as many as 16 States in the country are contaminated by uranium, whose presence in drinking water has been linked to chronic kidney disease by several studies, a recent study has shown. The main source of this contamination is natural, but groundwater depletion by the extensive withdrawal of water for irrigation and nitrite pollution due to the excessive use of nitrogenous fertilizers may be exacerbating the problem, said the study.

Uranium doesn’t figure on the list of contaminants monitored under the Bureau of Indian Standards’ drinking water specifications.

 “Nearly a third of all water wells we tested in Rajasthan contained uranium levels that exceed the World Health Organization’s safe drinking water standards,” said Vengosh, in a statement.

The WHO has set 30 parts per billion as the provisional safe drinking water standard for uranium. The study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

The scientists, who analyzed data from 68 previous studies of groundwater geochemistry in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and 14 other states, also found the problem is widespread in many aquifers in 26 districts in northern States such as Punjab and Haryana as well as some districts in southern and eastern States.

According to Rachel Coyte, a Ph.D. student in Vengosh’s lab, over-exploitation of groundwater for irrigation may contribute to the problem. Many aquifers are composed of clay, silt and gravel carried down from Himalayan weathering by streams or uranium-rich granitic rocks. “When over-pumping of these aquifers’ groundwater occurs and the water levels decline, it induces oxidation conditions that, in turn, enhance uranium enrichment in the shallow groundwater that remains,” Coyte said.

“The results of this study strongly suggest there is a need to revise current water-quality monitoring programs in India and re-evaluate human health risks in areas of high uranium prevalence,” Vengosh said.

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