BACKGROUND: 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) has a long half-life of 5-10 years in human beings as a result of its high lipophilicity, and little or no metabolism. We monitored TCDD, its form, distribution, and elimination in Victor Yushchenko after he presented with severe poisoning. METHODS: In late December, 2004, a patient presented with TCDD poisoning; the levels in his blood serum (108000 pg/g lipid weight) were more than 50 000-fold greater than those in the general population. We identified TCDD and its metabolites, and monitored their levels for 3 years using gas chromatography and high-resolution mass spectrometry in samples of blood serum, adipose tissue, faeces, skin, urine, and sweat, after they were extracted and cleaned with different organic solvents. FINDINGS: The amount of unmodified TCDD in the samples that were analysed accounted for about 60% of TCDD eliminated from the body during the same period. Two TCDD metabolites-2,3,7-trichloro-8-hydroxydibenzo-p-dioxin and 1,3,7,8-tetrachloro-2-hydroxydibenzo-p-dioxin-were identified in the faeces, blood serum, and urine. The faeces contained the highest concentration of TCDD metabolites, and were the main route of elimination. Altogether, the different routes of elimination of TCDD and its metabolites accounted for 98% of the loss of the toxin from the body. The half-life of TCDD in our patient was 15.4 months. INTERPRETATION: This case of poisoning with TCDD suggests that the design of methods for routine assessment of TCDD metabolites in human beings should be a main aim of TCDD research in the metabolomic era. FUNDING: University of Geneva Dermatology Fund, and Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology.
Comment In: Lancet. 2009 Oct 3;374(9696):1131-219660808
The nuclear accident at Chernobyl accounted for an acute radiation syndrome in 237 persons on the site. Triage was the initial problem and was carried out according to clinical and biological criteria; evaluating the doses received was based on these criteria. Thirty one persons died and only 1 survived a dose higher than 6 Gy. Skin radiation burns which were due to inadequate decontamination, greatly worsened prognosis. The results of 13 bone marrow transplantations were disappointing, with only 2 survivors. Some time after the accident, these severely irradiated patients are mainly suffering from psychosomatic disorders, in the USSR, some areas have been significantly contaminated and several measures were taken to mitigate the impact on population: evacuating 135,000 persons, distributing prophylactic iodine, establishing standards and controls on foodstuff. Radiation phobia syndrome which developed in many persons, is the only sanitary effect noticed up to now. Finally, in Europe, there was only an increase in induced abortions and this was totally unwarranted. If we consider the risk of radiation induced cancer, an effect might not be demonstrated.
This section describes the spectrum and the scale of the nonmalignant diseases that have been found among exposed populations. Adverse effects as a result of Chernobyl irradiation have been found in every group that has been studied. Brain damage has been found in individuals directly exposed--liquidators and those living in the contaminated territories, as well as in their offspring. Premature cataracts; tooth and mouth abnormalities; and blood, lymphatic, heart, lung, gastrointestinal, urologic, bone, and skin diseases afflict and impair people, young and old alike. Endocrine dysfunction, particularly thyroid disease, is far more common than might be expected, with some 1,000 cases of thyroid dysfunction for every case of thyroid cancer, a marked increase after the catastrophe. There are genetic damage and birth defects especially in children of liquidators and in children born in areas with high levels of radioisotope contamination. Immunological abnormalities and increases in viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases are rife among individuals in the heavily contaminated areas. For more than 20 years, overall morbidity has remained high in those exposed to the irradiation released by Chernobyl. One cannot give credence to the explanation that these numbers are due solely to socioeconomic factors. The negative health consequences of the catastrophe are amply documented in this chapter and concern millions of people.
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident happened on April 26, 1986. We investigated the cause of the striking increase in frequency of thyroid cancer in children who lived within a 150 km radius of Chernobyl and who were born before and after the accident. No thyroid cancer was seen in 9472 children born in 1987-89, whereas one and 31 thyroid cancers were recorded in 2409 children born April 27, 1986, to Dec 31, 1986, and 9720 born Jan 1, 1983, to April 26, 1986, respectively. Short-lived radioactive fallout caused by the Chernobyl accident probably induced thyroid cancer in children living near Chernobyl.