Uranium contamination in groundwater has been a persistent problem in Punjab, which came to the fore as early as 1990s. It has been talked about and fretted over for decades now. While presence of uranium and its extent of contamination has been surveyed and reported, the question—how and where did the uranium come from—has remained largely unanswered. Several hypotheses have emerged attributing the presence of unusually high amount of uranium in the state, especially in the fertile Malwa region, to the fallout of the Gulf War, industrial effluents, water percolating through fly ash dumps of thermal power station, excess application of phosphate-based fertilisers and geogenic (naturally occurring) reasons. A recent study on uranium toxicity published in Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry has gone a step closer to exploring why the most plausible origin of uranium problem observed in Malwa region of Punjab could be geogenic, as indicated in a previous study.
Down to Earth 15th July 2018 read more »