Chemical and Radiochemical Guidelines for Uranium in Drinking Water

Ansoborlo E, Lebaron-Jacobs L, Prat O. Uranium in drinking-water: A unique case of guideline value increases and discrepancies between chemical and radiochemical guidelines. Environment International. Apr2015, Vol. 77, p1-4. 4p.

Background: Uranium represents a unique case for an element naturally present in the environment, as its chemical guideline value in drinking water significantly increased from 2 μg/L in 1998 up to 15 μg/L in 2004 and then to 30 μg/L in 2011, to date corresponding to a multiplication factor of 15 within a period of just 13 years.

Objectives In this commentary we summarize the evolution of uranium guideline values in drinking-water based on both radiological and chemical aspects, emphasizing the benefit of human studies and their contribution to recent recommendations. We also propose a simpler and better consistency between radiological and chemical values.

Discussion: The current chemical guideline value of 30 μg/L is still designated as provisional because of scientific uncertainties regarding uranium toxicity. During the same period, the radiological guideline for 238 U increased from 4 Bq/L to 10 Bq/L while that for 234 U decreased from 4 Bq/L to 1 Bq/L. These discrepancies are discussed here, and a value of 1 Bq/L for all uranium isotopes is proposed to be more consistent with the current chemical value of 30 μg/L.

Conclusion: Continuous progress in the domains of toxicology and speciation should enable a better interpretation of the biological effects of uranium in correlation with epidemiological human studies. This will certainly aid future proposals for uranium guideline values. 


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