Health Effects and Environmental Justice Concerns of Exposure to Uranium in Drinking Water

Laura Corlin, Tommy Rock, Jamie Cordova, Mark Woodin, John L. Durant, David M. Gute, Jani Ingram, Doug Brugge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


We discuss the recent epidemiologic literature regarding health effects of uranium exposure in drinking water focusing on the chemical characteristics of uranium. While there is strong toxicologic evidence for renal and reproductive effects as well as DNA damage, the epidemiologic evidence for these effects in people exposed to uranium in drinking water is limited. Further, epidemiologic evidence is lacking for cardiovascular and oncogenic effects. One challenge in characterizing health effects of uranium in drinking water is the paucity of long-term cohort studies with individual level exposure assessment. Nevertheless, there are environmental justice concerns due to the substantial exposures for certain populations. For example, we present original data suggesting that individuals living in the Navajo Nation are exposed to high levels of uranium in unregulated well water used for drinking. In 10 out of 185 samples (5.4 %), concentrations of uranium exceeded standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Therefore, efforts to mitigate exposure to toxic elements in drinking water are warranted and should be prioritized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-442
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent environmental health reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Arsenic
  • Drinking water
  • Environmental justice
  • Health effects
  • Navajo
  • Uranium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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