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Title: An evaluation of health risk to the public as a consequence of in situ uranium mining in Wyoming, USA

In the United States there is considerable public concern regarding the health effects of in situ recovery uranium mining. These concerns focus principally on exposure to contaminants mobilized in groundwater by the mining process. However, the risk arising as a result of mining must be viewed in light of the presence of naturally occurring uranium ore and other constituents which comprise a latent hazard. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed new guidelines for successful restoration of an in situ uranium mine by limiting concentrations of thirteen groundwater constituents: arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, silver, nitrate (as nitrogen), molybdenum, radium, total uranium, and gross α activity. We investigated the changes occurring to these constituents at an ISR uranium mine in Wyoming, USA by comparing groundwater quality at baseline measurement to that at stability (post-restoration) testing. Of the groundwater constituents considered, only uranium and radium-226 showed significant (p < 0.05) deviation from site-wide baseline conditions in matched-wells. Uranium concentrations increased by a factor of 5.6 (95% CI 3.6–8.9 times greater) while radium-226 decreased by a factor of about one half (95% CI 0.42–0.75 times less). Change in risk was calculated using the RESRAD (onsite) code for an individualmore » exposed as a resident-farmer; total radiation dose to a resident farmer decreased from pre-to post-mining by about 5.2 mSv y –1. As a result, higher concentrations of uranium correspond to increased biomarkers of nephrotoxicity, however the clinical significance of this increase is unclear.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  2. Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0265-931X; PII: S0265931X1530076X
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 150; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0265-931X
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; uranium; mining; environmental impacts; risk assessment
OSTI Identifier: