Due to a lapse in appropriations, the majority of USGS websites may not be up to date and may not reflect current conditions. Websites displaying real-time data, such as Earthquake and Water and information needed for public health and safety will be updated with limited support. Additionally, USGS will not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted. For more information, please see www.doi.gov/shutdown
Is Uranium in Water Resources near the Grand Canyon a Health Hazard?
Pigeon Canyon in northern Arizona is just north of the Grand Canyon
Here, Pigeon Spring emerges in Pigeon Canyon just before it merges with Snake Gulch in northern Arizona.
Mountain Sheep Spring, Arizona, is one of the 37 springs
north of the Grand Canyon near areas of breccia-pipe uranium mining that USGS scientists studied
Willow Spring in Hack Canyon in Arizona north of the Grand Canyon
A sign next to the spring says Water Not Suitable for Drinking. The spring has elevated levels of uranium and selenium.
Science Center Objects
The public worries that uranium in natural geologic formations, mine tailings, dusts, water, and other geologic materials can pose a health hazard to humans and wildlife.
Our specialized teams of hydrologists, chemists, and geologists working together at a field site in the Grand Canyon region of the United States have shown:
Elevated uranium concentrations (above the drinking water standard) were found at Pigeon Spring in the Grand Canyon area. However our science showed these uranium concentrations are naturally elevated and not related to nearby mining operations.
Questions We're Working On:
- Is uranium in springs and wells elsewhere originating from natural or mining-related sources?
- Are humans, fish, or wildlife in the Grand Canyon area or elsewhere being exposed to elevated uranium in water, dusts, or other geologic materials from natural or mining-related sources?
- If so, do these exposures to natural uranium or uranium in mining byproducts actually pose a health hazard, and how can hazardous exposures to mining byproducts, if present, be better minimized or prevented?