Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Uranium from Water?

This page may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

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.

Key Takeaways

  • Reverse osmosis removes up to 99% of uranium from water. It’s the most recommended method for filtering out uranium.

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Uranium from Water?

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.

How Effective Is Reverse Osmosis At Removing 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.

blue reverse osmosis membrane

Other Contaminants Being Removed

Other contaminants removed by reverse osmosis water purification include:

  • VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
  • Sediments
  • Microbes like bacteria, viruses, cysts
  • Pesticides
  • Metals like mercury, lead, nickel, cadmium, chromium 6
  • Water disinfectants (chlorine and chloramine)
  • Minerals and salts

What Is Reverse Osmosis and How Does It Work?

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.

Other Ways to Remove Uranium from Water

If you don’t want to remove uranium with reverse osmosis, there are other options you can try. They include:

Anion Exchange

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

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.

Water Distillation

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.

How to Test Your Water

There are different ways to test your water for uranium.

  • The most reliable way to confirm if your water has uranium is by taking the water to an EPA-certified lab for testing. These labs give 100% accurate results and let you know what other contaminants are in your water. You can check the EPA’s website to locate a certified lab near you.
  • Another way to test for uranium is by calling your water utility to run a test. Some water utilities test their customer’s water for free. However, not all water utilities do this.
  • If your water supplier doesn’t run free tests, you could still ask for the latest water quality report. The EPA requires that all public water suppliers must run tests on the water and make the results open to the customers. These results are available online, and they detail the contaminants in your water and their respective concentrations.

Water Testing Report

The Health Effects of Uranium in Drinking Water

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.

How Much Uranium Is Considered Safe?

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!

About the Author Alexandra Uta

Alex is a content writer with an affinity for research and a methodical attention to detail. Since 2020, she has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Alex has been using water filters and similar products for years which has gained her lots of hands-on experience.
Learn more about .


Information provided on BOS is for educational purposes only. The products and services we review may not be right for your individual circumstances.
We adhere to strict editorial guidelines. Rest assured, the opinions expressed have not been provided, reviewed, or otherwise endorsed by our partners – they are unbiased, independent, and the author’s alone. Our licensed experts fact-check all content for accuracy. It is accurate as of the date posted and to the best of our knowledge.

Leave a Comment: