Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s
Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s.
A shocking new study has revealed that groundwater drunk by billions of people may have been contaminated by decades of nuclear weapons testing.
Researchers looked at more than 6,000 wells around the globe, some containing water more than 10,000 years old, found more than half had traces of tritium.
Although most of the groundwater that is accessible from deep wells is thousands of years old, the presence of tritium – an isotope of hydrogen – shows at least some of it is vulnerable to modern contamination.
He said: ‘It supplies drinking water to literally billions of people and therefore if the reserves are vulnerable to contamination, we really need to know about that.’
But much more groundwater has been stored beneath the Earth’s surface for many thousands of years.
They said this is significant because tritium was spread around the globe by nuclear testing carried out in the 1950s, showing at least some of the groundwater in the wells post-dates this time.
Professor Kirchner said: ‘Tritium occurs in rainfall as a by product of nuclear weapons testing in the mid 1900s.
A third of Americans get their drinking water from public water systems that use ground water, more than 105 million people.
The oceans contain about 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, but that, of course, isn’t drinkable.