Uranium is a naturally occurring metal that has the potential to cause kidney damage or cancer if you are exposed to high levels over an extended period of time. Uranium may enter groundwater through erosion of natural deposits. Concerns regarding uranium in drinking water prompted KBIC and Indian Health Service (IHS) to complete a study of uranium levels in well water within the Community.
The Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for uranium in drinking water is 30 µg/L (or 0.03 mg/L). This standard is set forth by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Sample results that exceed the MCL increase the risk of health effects over time when ingested. Uranium is not absorbed through skin; therefore, bathing in water with elevated levels of uranium is not a health risk. Individuals with elevated levels are recommended to install a “point of use” reverse osmosis system.
Well water testing for uranium was made available to KBIC members in Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, Marquette, and Ontonagon counties. A total of 90 wells were sample throughout the study. Though the initial study is now complete, eligible KBIC members may still be able to have their well water tested for uranium upon request. For more information please contact Micah Petoskey or Kit Laux at 524-5757 ext. 15 or 16.
For more information, check out the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department website: