University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers Karrie Weber and Jason Nolan have tested 275,000 water samples collected from 62,000 locations across the US, and what they’ve found will be shocking to some.
The samples were taken primarily from two large aquifers, which supply drinking water to millions of people. When you look at the results and compare them to the commentary offered by artists of our time – such as the song ‘Radioactive’ by Imagine Dragons – you can understand why we need a revolution.
The researchers found that parts of the High Plains Aquifer, also known as the Ogallala, is saturated with uranium at a level exceeding the EPA’s ‘safe limit’ 89 fold. California’s Central Valley was even worse, with a uranium concentration that is 180 times higher than the EPA’s maximum allowable contamination level, yet we are all supposed to be drinking this radioactive water?
“It needs to be recognized that uranium is a widespread contaminant,” said Weber, assistant professor of biological, Earth and atmospheric sciences. “And we are creating this problem by producing a primary contaminant that leads to a secondary one.
When you start thinking about how much water is drawn from these aquifers, it’s substantial relative to anywhere else in the world. These two aquifers are economically important – they play a significant role in feeding the nation – but they’re also important for health. What’s the point of having water if you can’t drink it or use it for irrigation?”
What’s worse, the researchers have discovered that industrial agricultural practices are making the uranium more soluble, so it mucks up our drinking water even more insidiously.
“78% of the contaminated aquifers were linked to the presence of nitrate that originates from chemical fertilizers and animal waste. Nitrate is most commonly linked to groundwater contamination, and is responsible for mobilizing uranium through a series of bacterial and chemical reactions which oxidize the radioactive mineral, making it soluble in groundwater.”
The lyrics from ‘Radioactive’ by Imagine Dragons might seem like a new age apocalypse scenario, but it seems what we’re experiencing in this modern world isn’t so far off.