Detection of depleted uranium in urine of veterans from the 1991 Gulf War

Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.
Health Physics (Impact Factor: 1.27). 02/2004; 86(1):12-8. DOI: 10.1097/00004032-200401000-00004
Source: PubMed


American soldiers involved in "friendly fire" accidents during the 1991 Gulf War were injured with depleted-uranium-containing fragments or possibly exposed to depleted uranium via other routes such as inhalation, ingestion, and/or wound contamination. To evaluate the presence of depleted uranium in these soldiers eight years later, the uranium concentration and depleted uranium content of urine samples were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in (a) depleted uranium exposed soldiers with embedded shrapnel, (b) depleted uranium exposed soldiers with no shrapnel, and (c) a reference group of deployed soldiers not involved in the friendly fire incidents. Uranium isotopic ratios measured in many urine samples injected directly into the inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer and analyzed at a mass resolution m/delta m of 300 appeared enriched in 235U with respect to natural abundance (0.72%) due to the presence of an interference of a polyatomic molecule of mass 234.81 amu that was resolved at a mass resolution m/delta m of 4,000. The 235U abundance measured on uranium separated from these urines by anion exchange chromatography was clearly natural or depleted. Urine uranium concentrations of soldiers with shrapnel were higher than those of the two other groups, and 16 out of 17 soldiers with shrapnel had detectable depleted uranium in their urine. In depleted uranium exposed soldiers with no shrapnel, depleted uranium was detected in urine samples of 10 out of 28 soldiers. The median uranium concentration of urines with depleted uranium from soldiers without shrapnel was significantly higher than in urines with no depleted uranium, though substantial overlap in urine uranium concentrations existed between the two groups. Accordingly, assessment of depleted uranium exposure using urine must rely on uranium isotopic analyses, since urine uranium concentration is not an unequivocal indicator of depleted uranium presence in soldiers with no embedded shrapnel.

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    • "Ehrlich et al. (2004) found analyte separation to be unnecessary for 234 U/ 238 U measurements from manganese nodules, although deposition of dissolved solids on the sampler and skimmer cones could be an issue. However, Gwiazda et al. (2004) and Shen et al. (2002) experienced background interferences on m/z 235 when working at very low uranium concentrations; the latter study attributed this to organic rich samples and the interference was removed by separation chemistry. A significant objective of this case-study is to define the present distribution of DU contamination. "
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    ABSTRACT: Uranium oxide particles were dispersed into the environment from a factory in Colonie (NY, USA) by prevailing winds during the 1960s and '70s. Uranium concentrations and isotope ratios from bulk soil samples have been accurately measured using inductively coupled plasma quadrupole mass spectrometry (ICP-QMS) without the need for analyte separation chemistry. The natural range of uranium concentrations in the Colonie soils has been estimated as 0.7-2.1 microg g(-1), with a weighted geometric mean of 1.05 microg g(-1); the contaminated soil samples comprise uranium up to 500+/-40 microg g(-1). A plot of (236)U/(238)U against (235)U/(238)U isotope ratios describes a mixing line between natural uranium and depleted uranium (DU) in bulk soil samples; scatter from this line can be accounted for by heterogeneity in the DU particulate. The end-member of DU compositions aggregated in these bulk samples comprises (2.05+/-0.06) x 10(-3)(235)U/(238)U, (3.2+/-0.1)x10(-5)(236)U/(238)U, and (7.1+/-0.3) x 10(-6)(234)U/(238)U. The analytical method is sensitive to as little as 50 ng g(-1) DU mixed with the natural uranium occurring in these soils. The contamination footprint has been mapped northward from site, and at least one third of the uranium in a soil sample from the surface 5 cm, collected 5. 1km NNW of the site, is DU. The distribution of contamination within the surface soil horizon follows a trend of exponential decrease with depth, which can be approximated by a simple diffusion model. Bioturbation by earthworms can account for dispersal of contaminant from the soil surface, in the form of primary uranium oxide particulates, and uranyl species that are adsorbed to organic matter. Considering this distribution, the total mass of uranium contamination emitted from the factory is estimated to be c. 4.8 tonnes.
    Science of The Total Environment 10/2009; 408(2):397-407. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.09.024 · 4.10 Impact Factor
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    • "Most other studies of US or allied soldiers that have DU contamination involve individuals with embedded shrapnel (Hooper et al., 1999; McDiarmid et al., 2000, 2004). Gwiazda et al. (2004) measured uranium isotopes in urine from non-shrapnelembedded US soldiers that served in the Persian Gulf conflict of 1991 and found some evidence of DU, but the measurements by ICP-MS lacked sensitivity and reproducibility at moderate to low urinary uranium concentrations, and the study involved a small cohort. More recently, the UK government commissioned both a voluntary screening programme of more than 400 individuals potentially having a DU exposure during the period 1991–1997 (DUOB, 2007) and a study by Bland et al. (2007) that tested for DU in spot urine samples of more than 300 personnel involved in Iraq in 2003. "
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    ABSTRACT: Inhaled depleted uranium (DU) aerosols are recognised as a distinct human health hazard and DU has been suggested to be responsible in part for illness in both military and civilian populations that may have been exposed. This study aimed to develop and use a testing procedure capable of detecting an individual's historic milligram-quantity aerosol exposure to DU up to 20 years after the event. This method was applied to individuals associated with or living proximal to a DU munitions plant in Colonie New York that were likely to have had a significant DU aerosol inhalation exposure, in order to improve DU-exposure screening reliability and gain insight into the residence time of DU in humans. We show using sensitive mass spectrometric techniques that when exposure to aerosol has been unambiguous and in sufficient quantity, urinary excretion of DU can be detected more than 20 years after primary DU inhalation contamination ceased, even when DU constitutes only approximately 1% of the total excreted uranium. It seems reasonable to conclude that a chronically DU-exposed population exists within the contamination 'footprint' of the munitions plant in Colonie, New York. The method allows even a modest DU exposure to be identified where other less sensitive methods would have failed entirely. This should allow better assessment of historical exposure incidence than currently exists.
    Science of The Total Environment 03/2008; 390(1):58-68. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2007.09.044 · 4.10 Impact Factor
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    • "Cell culture allows strict control of the cellular environment, which could influence cellular responses. Using the knowledge gathered from DU accumulation studies in the rodent models (Arfsten et al., 2005; Fitsanakis et al., 2006; Hahn et al., 2002; Miller et al., 1998b; Pellmar et al., 1999a) and from Gulf War veterans (Gwiazda et al., 2004; McDiarmid et al., 2000, 2001; Scott, 2003; Squibb and McDiarmid, 2006), we can extrapolate that CNS cells may potentially be exposed to nanomolar concentrations of U from leached uranium from embedded DU fragments. We also considered previous studies with U in cell cultures in the selection of our experimental uranium criteria and concentrations (Carriere et al., 2004; Kalinich and FIG. 3. Uranyl acetate does not cause significant alterations in thiol metabolite levels and redox potential. "
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    ABSTRACT: Depleted uranium (DU) is an extremely dense metal that is used in radiation shielding, counterbalances, armor, and ammunition. In light of the public concerns about exposure to DU and its potential role in Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), this study evaluated the neurotoxic potential of DU using focused studies on primary rat cortical neurons and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We examined cell viability, cellular energy metabolism, thiol metabolite oxidation, and lipid peroxidation following exposure of cultured neurons to DU, in the form of uranyl acetate. We concurrently evaluated the neurotoxicity of uranyl acetate in C. elegans using various neuronal-green fluourescent protein reporter strains to visualize neurodegeneration. Our studies indicate that uranyl acetate has low cytotoxic potential, and uranium exposure does not result in significant changes in cellular energy metabolism, thiol metabolite oxidation, or lipid peroxidation. Furthermore, our C. elegans studies do not show any significant neurodegeneration following uranyl acetate exposure. Together, these studies suggest that DU, in the form of uranyl acetate, has low neurotoxic potential. These findings should alleviate the some of public concerns regarding DU as an etiologic agent of neurodegenerative conditions associated with GWS.
    Toxicological Sciences 11/2007; 99(2):553-65. DOI:10.1093/toxsci/kfm171 · 3.85 Impact Factor
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