A recent study conducted by a research team of the department of physics of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) has claimed that uranium can be removed from water by the RO system.
The team comprising Nisha Sharma, Barjinder Kaur and Rajbans Kaur has found that various Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems installed by the state government in villages of Bathinda and Mansa districts as well as by people in their houses and at petrol pumps on roadsides of the area were working well in removing uranium from water by more than 90%. In many cases, the rate goes up to 99%.
Another study carried out in Amritsar city and subsequent laboratory experiments have shown similar results.
The research team also found that the essential minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium are also removed by larger amounts as the RO system removes all the dissolved salts (TDS). Care should be taken that the intake of these minerals does not go below the dietary requirements, which may require supplementation, the team warned.
However, the research team made a significant observation. It was observed during the study that the wastewater from the community RO system was discharged in the nearby areas.
This wastewater contains elevated levels of dissolved solids along with the uranium removed by the RO during purification of water. The seepage of this water again into the groundwater in the affected areas may further aggravate the situation with time.
In another survey by the same team carried out in Amritsar city, it was found that the drinking water got by submersible motors installed in houses at a depth of 100-120 feet have comparatively more TDS and uranium content as compared to the municipal corporation supply from deep tubewells.
Jaspal Singh, head of the department, while releasing the study here on Friday, said the problem of high uranium content in water was first highlighted when a research team from this department analysed some water samples of Bathinda area in 1988. The results were unbelievable at that time.