The exposure to uranium (U) in the natural environment is primarily through ingestion (eating contaminated food and drinking water) and dermal (skin contact with U powders/wastes) pathways. This study focuses on the dose assessment for different age-groups using the USEPA model. A total of 156 drinking water samples were tested to know U level in the groundwater of the study region. Different age-groups were selected to determine the human health impact due to uranium exposure in the residing populations. To determine the relative importance of each input, a variance decomposition technique, i.e., Sobol sensitivity analysis, was used. Furthermore, different sample sizes were tested to obtain the optimal Sobol sensitivity indices. Three types of effects were evaluated: first-order effect (FOE), second-order effect (SOE) and total effect. The result of analysis revealed that 17% of the samples had U concentration above 30 µg l−1 of U, which is the recommended level by World Health Organization. The mean hazard index (HI) value for younger age-group was found to be less than 1, whereas the 95th percentile value of HI value exceeded for both age-groups. The mean annual effective dose of U for adults was found to be slightly higher than the recommended level of 0.1 m Sv year−1. This result signified that adults experienced relatively higher exposure dose than the children in this region. Sobol sensitivity analysis of FOE showed that the concentration of uranium (Cw) is the most sensitive input followed by intake rate (IR) and exposure frequency. Moreover, the value of SOE revealed that interaction effect of Cw − IR is the most sensitive input parameter for the assessment of oral health risk. On the other hand, dermal model showed Cw − F as the most sensitive interaction input. The larger value of SOE was also recorded for older age-group than for the younger group.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Abdelouas, A. (2006). Uranium mill tailings: geochemistry, mineralogy, and environmental impact. Elements,2(6), 335–341.
Aerb, D. (2004). Drinking water specifications in India. Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India: Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
Alam, M. S., & Cheng, T. (2014). Uranium release from sediment to groundwater: influence of water chemistry and insights into release mechanisms. Journal of contaminant hydrology,164, 72–87.
Arogunjo, A., Höllriegl, V., Giussani, A., Leopold, K., Gerstmann, U., Veronese, I., et al. (2009). Uranium and thorium in soils, mineral sands, water and food samples in a tin mining area in Nigeria with elevated activity. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity,100(3), 232–240.
Arzuaga, X., Rieth, S. H., Bathija, A., & Cooper, G. S. (2010). Renal effects of exposure to natural and depleted uranium: a review of the epidemiologic and experimental data. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B,13(7–8), 527–545.
Asaduzzaman, K., Khandaker, M. U., Amin, Y. M., & Mahat, R. (2015). Uptake and distribution of natural radioactivity in rice from soil in north and west part of peninsular Malaysia for the estimation of ingestion dose to man. Annals of Nuclear Energy,76, 85–93.
Burmaster, D. E. (1991). Using Monte Carlo simulations in public health risk assessments: estimating and presenting full distributions of risk. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology,1(4), 491–512.
Burmaster, D. E., & Lehr, J. H. (1991). It's time to make risk assessment a science. Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation,11(3), 5–15.
Chabaux, F., Riotte, J., & Dequincey, O. (2003). U–Th–Ra fractionation during weathering and river transport. Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry,52(1), 533–576.
Choppin, G., Liljenzin, J., & Rydberg, J. (2002). Behavior of radionuclides in the environment. Butterworth-Heinemann, London: Radiochem Nucl Chem.
Davis, J. A., Meece, D. E., Kohler, M., & Curtis, G. P. (2004). Approaches to surface complexation modeling of uranium (VI) adsorption on aquifer sediments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta,68(18), 3621–3641.
Dewar, D. (2019). Uranium mining: Environmental and human health effects. Nuclear non-proliferation in international law-Volume IV (pp. 229–235). Berlin: Springer.
Durbin, P. W. (1984). Metabolic models for uranium. Biokinetics and analysis of uranium in man. Springfield: National Technical Information Service.
EPA, U. (2011). Exposure factors handbook 2011 Edition (Final). US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-09/052F.
Fisher, D. R., Kathren, R. L., & Swint, M. J. (1991). Modified biokinetic model for uranium from analysis of acute exposure to UF6. Health Physics,60(3), 335–342.
Fox, P. M., Davis, J. A., & Zachara, J. M. (2006). The effect of calcium on aqueous uranium (VI) speciation and adsorption to ferrihydrite and quartz. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta,70(6), 1379–1387.
Guo, H., Jia, Y., Wanty, R. B., Jiang, Y., Zhao, W., Xiu, W., et al. (2016). Contrasting distributions of groundwater arsenic and uranium in the western Hetao basin, Inner Mongolia: Implication for origins and fate controls. Science of the Total Environment,541, 1172–1190.
Hakonson-Hayes, A. C., Fresquez, P., & Whicker, F. (2002). Assessing potential risks from exposure to natural uranium in well water. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity,59(1), 29–40.
Homma, T., & Saltelli, A. (1996). Importance measures in global sensitivity analysis of nonlinear models. Reliability Engineering & System Safety,52(1), 1–17.
Huang, D., Yang, J., Wei, X., Qin, J., Ou, S., Zhang, Z., et al. (2017). Probabilistic risk assessment of Chinese residents' exposure to fluoride in improved drinking water in endemic fluorosis areas. Environmental Pollution,222, 118–125.
Kumar, D., Singh, A., & Jha, R. K. (2018a). Spatial distribution of uranium and basic water quality parameter in the capital of Bihar and consequent ingestion dose. Environmental Science and Pollution Research,25(18), 17901–179014.
Kumar, D., Singh, A., Jha, R. K., Sahoo, S. K., & Jha, V. (2018b). Using spatial statistics to identify the uranium hotspot in groundwater in the mid-eastern Gangetic plain. India. Environmental Earth Sciences,77(19), 702.
Kumar, D., Singh, A., Jha, R. K., Sahoo, S. K., & Jha, V. (2019). A variance decomposition approach for risk assessment of groundwater quality. Exposure and Health,11(2), 139–151.
Kurttio, P., Auvinen, A., Salonen, L., Saha, H., Pekkanen, J., Mäkeläinen, I., et al. (2002). Renal effects of uranium in drinking water. Environmental Health Perspectives,110(4), 337.
Kurttio, P., Komulainen, H., Leino, A., Salonen, L., Auvinen, A., & Saha, H. (2005). Bone as a possible target of chemical toxicity of natural uranium in drinking water. Environmental Health Perspectives,113(1), 68.
Kurttio, P., Harmoinen, A., Saha, H., Salonen, L., Karpas, Z., Komulainen, H., et al. (2006a). Kidney toxicity of ingested uranium from drinking water. American Journal of Kidney Diseases,47(6), 972–982.
Kurttio, P., Salonen, L., Ilus, T., Pekkanen, J., Pukkala, E., & Auvinen, A. (2006b). Well water radioactivity and risk of cancers of the urinary organs. Environmental Research,102(3), 333–338.
Leggett, R., & Harrison, J. (1995). Fractional absorption of ingested uranium in humans. Health Physics,68(4), 484–498.
Leggett, R., & Pellmar, T. (2003). The biokinetics of uranium migrating from embedded DU fragments. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity,64(2–3), 205–225.
Liesch, T., Hinrichsen, S., & Goldscheider, N. (2015). Uranium in groundwater—fertilizers versus geogenic sources. Science of the Total Environment,536, 981–995.
Lipsztein, J. L. (1982). An improved model for uranium metabolism in the primate. PhD Dissertation, New York University
Liu, C., Shi, Z., & Zachara, J. M. (2009). Kinetics of uranium (VI) desorption from contaminated sediments: Effect of geochemical conditions and model evaluation. Environmental Science & Technology,43(17), 6560–6566.
Mehta, V. S., Maillot, F., Wang, Z., Catalano, J. G., & Giammar, D. E. (2014). Effect of co-solutes on the products and solubility of uranium (VI) precipitated with phosphate. Chemical Geology,364, 66–75.
Moon, H. S., Komlos, J., & Jaffé, P. R. (2007). Uranium reoxidation in previously bioreduced sediment by dissolved oxygen and nitrate. Environmental Science & Technology,41(13), 4587–4592.
Pinney, S. M., Freyberg, R. W., Levine, G. H., Brannen, D. E., Mark, L. S., Nasuta, J. M., et al. (2003). Health effects in community residents near a uranium plant at Fernald, Ohio, USA. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health,16(2), 139–153.
Saltelli, A., Tarantola, S., & Chan, K.-S. (1999). A quantitative model-independent method for global sensitivity analysis of model output. Technometrics,41(1), 39–56.
Saltelli, A., Ratto, M., Andres, T., Campolongo, F., Cariboni, J., Gatelli, D., et al. (2008). Global sensitivity analysis: the primer. Hoboken: Wiley.
Senko, J. M., Istok, J. D., Suflita, J. M., & Krumholz, L. R. (2002). In-situ evidence for uranium immobilization and remobilization. Environmental Science & Technology,36(7), 1491–1496.
Senko, J. M., Suflita, J. M., & Krumholz, L. R. (2005). Geochemical controls on microbial nitrate-dependent U (IV) oxidation. Geomicrobiology Journal,22(7–8), 371–378.
Smedley, P., Smith, B., Abesser, C., & Lapworth, D. (2006). Uranium occurrence and behaviour in British groundwater. British Geological Survey Groundwater Systems & Water Quality Programme Commissioned Report CR/06/050. British Geological Survey, Keyworth: Nottigham.
Smith, R. L. (1994). Use of Monte Carlo simulation for human exposure assessment at a superfund site. Risk Analysis,14(4), 433–439.
Sobol, I. M. (1993). Sensitivity estimates for nonlinear mathematical models. Mathematical modelling and computational experiments,1(4), 407–414.
Staff, E. (2001). Supplemental guidance for developing soil screening levels for superfund sites, peer review graft. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, OSWER (Vol. 9355, pp. 9354–9324).
Tang, T., Reed, P., Wagener, T., & Van Werkhoven, K. (2006). Comparing sensitivity analysis methods to advance lumped watershed model identification and evaluation. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions,3(6), 3333–3395.
Thorne, M. (2020). Assessment Modelling and the evaluation of radiological and chemical impacts of uranium on humans and the environment. Uranium in plants and the environment (pp. 193–216). Berlin: Springer.
USEPA. (1992). Guidelines for exposure assessment. Federal Register,57(104), 22888–22938.
Wan, H., Xia, J., Zhang, L., She, D., Xiao, Y., & Zou, L. (2015). Sensitivity and interaction analysis based on Sobol’method and its application in a distributed flood forecasting model. Water,7(6), 2924–2951.
Wetterlind, J., Richer De Forges, A., Nicoullaud, B., & Arrouays, D. (2012). Changes in uranium and thorium contents in topsoil after long-term phosphorus fertilizer application. Soil Use and Management,28(1), 101–107.
WHO. (2004). IPCS Risk Assessment Terminology. Geneva: World Health Organization.
Wrenn, M., Durbin, P. W., Howard, B., Lipsztein, J., Rundo, J., Still, E. T., et al. (1983). Metabolism of ingested uranium and radium. Salt Late City: Utah University.
Zamora, M. L., Tracy, B., Zielinski, J., Meyerhof, D., & Moss, M. (1998). Chronic ingestion of uranium in drinking water: a study of kidney bioeffects in humans. Toxicological Sciences,43(1), 68–77.
Zhan, C.-S., Song, X.-M., Xia, J., & Tong, C. (2013). An efficient integrated approach for global sensitivity analysis of hydrological model parameters. Environmental Modelling & Software,41, 39–52.
Zhang, X. Y., Trame, M., Lesko, L., & Schmidt, S. (2015). Sobol sensitivity analysis: A tool to guide the development and evaluation of systems pharmacology models. CPT Pharmacometrics & Systems Pharmacology,4(2), 69–79.
Authors are profoundly grateful to Board of Research and Nuclear Sciences (BRNS Project Ref. No.: 36(4)/14/10/2014-BRNS) under Department of Atomic Energy, India, for providing financial assistance.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they do not have any conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Disclaimer: The authors are solely responsible for this content and do not represent the official views of the BRNS under DAE, India.
About this article
Cite this article
Kumar, D., Singh, A., Kumar, P. et al. Sobol sensitivity analysis for risk assessment of uranium in groundwater. Environ Geochem Health (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-020-00522-5
- Sobol sensitivity analysis
- Dose assessment
- Global sensitivity analysis