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Uranium is a radioactive isotope sometimes found in drinking water.
If you want to get rid of uranium in water, it makes sense to explore your options.
In this article, we’ll talk about reverse osmosis and how it works against uranium.
You’ll learn if reverse osmosis removes uranium from water and other ways to clear out uranium.
So, does reverse osmosis remove uranium form water?
Yes, reverse osmosis removes uranium from water. In fact, it’s the most recommended method for filtering uranium.
Reverse osmosis is very effective at removing uranium from water. It removes up to 99% of the uranium present, so pretty much all of it.
Other contaminants removed by reverse osmosis water purification include:
Reverse osmosis is a water purification method that filters water through a semipermeable membrane. The semipermeable membrane has tiny pores that prevent most contaminants from passing through. As a result, elements like uranium get rejected on the RO membrane surface not making it into the filtered water. Uranium and other contaminants are then flushed down the drain as part of the wastewater stream.
The RO membrane is not the only part of a reverse osmosis system, though. RO systems also have pre and post-treatment stages that filter water before and after said membrane. Types of filter methods/media used include sediment filtration and activated carbon.
Pre-filters prolong the lifespan of the RO membrane by removing hardness-causing minerals, chemicals like chlorine, and sediments. Aside from protecting the RO membrane, any impurities removed during pre-filtration will also not contaminate your drinking water, so it’s a win-win.
After the RO membrane, the water goes through post-treatment to provide an even more complete filtration outcome.
Water from the system is stored in the RO storage tank, where it can be drawn up whenever needed – eliminates not waiting times.
If you don’t want to remove uranium with reverse osmosis, there are other options you can try. They include:
A strong-base anion exchange column is effective at treating uranium-contaminated water.
Anion exchange uses a resin bed with negatively charged ions to draw up uranium ions.
The principle is simple: The resin bed is placed inside a vessel or column, and the water to be filtered is made to flow through the resin. Since uranium ions are positively charged, they attract the resin’s negatively charged ions. The resin holds on to the uranium ions and releases its own negative ions in exchange. At the end of the process, the uranium ions are “glued” to the resin beads, and uranium-free water flows out of the vessel and becomes available for use.
Anion exchange can remove >95% of uranium from water.
Activated alumina has a high surface area and is incredibly adsorbent. As a result, contaminants like uranium are easily attached to its surface and removed from water.
Activated alumina removes 50-90% of uranium. The removal rates highly depend on the water’s pH. A pH of 6-10 is ideal for optimal results.
After uranium is adsorbed on the surface, the alumina particles should be safely disposed of because uranium is radioactive.
Distillation is also effective at removing uranium from water. The distillation process is simple. The distiller heats water until it boils and evaporates into steam. Then, the steam is allowed to cool and condenses into a purified liquid.
Since impurities like uranium have higher boiling points, they do not evaporate with water and remain in the boiling chamber.
Distillation removes practically all uranium from water, but it’s not the best method to use on a large scale.
There are different ways to test your water for uranium.
Drinking uranium-contaminated water increases a person’s risk of developing cancer and kidney damage. When uranium is taken into the body through eating or drinking, most of it is excreted out. However, some uranium enters the kidneys and bloodstream. Uranium weakens the kidneys, and as a result, toxins are free to flow into the bloodstream.
Uranium also causes immune system suppression, opening the doors to infections. Chronic uranium exposure can damage bone tissues, leading to osteoporosis or bone cancer.
The US EPA has set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for uranium at 30 µg/L. The WHO recommends a maximum contaminant level of 15 µg/L.
If you have any questions about using a reverse osmosis system to remove uranium please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
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