The age dependence of the natural concentration of uranium and thorium in the skeleton was investigated using human vertebrae bone collected from two Canadian locations (Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Regina, Saskatchewan). The concentration of both radioelements in digested ashed bone samples was determined using sector-field inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The geometric means for uranium level in bones showed a significant statistical difference between the two locations studied. Similarly for thorium, a statistical difference was observed, although this difference was considered marginal. The thorium concentration differed only marginally with respect to age group, indicating that its behavior in the body could be age-independent. Conversely, the uranium level in bones was found to change for the age groups tested, an indication of age-specific deposition. The age profile for uranium was comparable to the calcium turn-over rate, indicating that uranium deposition is probably, in part, dictated by this metabolic process, showing the role of present uptake into the uranium concentration in bones for populations exposed to significant uranium intake.
We describe a submicron aerosol particle sampled at an altitude of 7?km near the Aleutian Islands that contained a small percentage of enriched uranium oxide. 235U was 3.1?±?0.5% of 238U. During twenty years of aircraft sampling of millions of particles in the global atmosphere, we have rarely encountered a particle with a similarly high content of 238U and never a particle with enriched 235U. The bulk of the particle consisted of material consistent with combustion of heavy fuel oil. Analysis of wind trajectories and particle dispersion model results show that the particle could have originated from a variety of areas across Asia. The source of such a particle is unclear, and the particle is described here in case it indicates a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed.
A plant processing radium and uranium ores has been operating in the town of Port Hope since 1932. Given the nuclear industry located in the community and ongoing public health concerns, cancer incidence rates in Port Hope were studied for a recent 16 year period (1992-2007) for continued periodic cancer incidence surveillance of the community. The cancer incidence in the local community for all cancers combined was similar to the Ontario population, health regions with similar socio-economic characteristics in Ontario and in Canada, and the Canadian population. No statistically significant differences in childhood cancer, leukaemia or other radiosensitive cancer incidence were observed, with the exception of statistically significant elevated lung cancer incidence among women. However, the statistical significance was reduced or disappeared when the comparison was made to populations with similar socio-economic characteristics. These findings are consistent with previous ecological, case-control and cohort studies conducted in Port Hope, environmental assessments, and epidemiological studies conducted elsewhere on populations living around similar facilities or exposed to similar environmental contaminants. Although the current study covered an extended period of time, the power to detect risk at the sub-regional level of analysis was limited since the Port Hope population is small (16,500). The study nevertheless indicated that large differences in cancer incidence are not occurring in Port Hope compared to other similar communities and the general population.
This work focuses on the occurrence of 236U in seawater along Danish coasts, which is the sole water-exchange region between the North Sea-Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. Seawater collected in 2013 and 2014 were analyzed for 236U (as well as 238U and 137Cs). Our results indicate that 236U concentrations in Danish seawater are distributed within a relatively narrow range of (3.6-8.2) × 107 atom/L and, to a certain extent, independent of salinity. 236U/238U atomic ratios in Danish seawater are more than 4 times higher than the estimated global fallout value of 1× 10-9. The levels of 236U/238U atomic ratios obtained are comparable to those reported for the open North Sea and much higher than several other open oceans worldwide. This indicates that besides the global fallout input, the discharges from the two major European nuclear reprocessing plants are dominating sources of 236U in Danish seawater. However, unexpectedly high 236U/238U ratios as well as high 236U concentrations were observed at low-salinity locations of the Baltic Sea. While this feature might be interpreted as a clue for another significant 236U input in the Baltic Sea, it may also be caused by the complexity of water currents or slow turnover rate.
Urine monitoring is the preferred method to determine exposure to soluble compounds of uranium in workplaces. The interpretation of uranium contents in workers bioassay samples requires knowledge on uranium excretion and its dependence on intake by diet. Exceptionally high concentrations of natural uranium in private drinking water sources have been measured in the granite areas of Southern Finland. Consequently, high concentrations of natural uranium have been observed in the urine and hair samples of people using water from their own drilled wells. Natural uranium content in urine and hair samples of family members, who use uranium-rich household water, have been analyzed by using ICP-MS. The uranium concentrations both in urine and hair samples of the study subjects were significantly higher than the world-wide average values. In addition, gammaspectrometric methods have been tested for determining uranium in hair samples. This method can be used only for samples with highly elevated uranium concentrations.
Lakes receiving effluent from the Key Lake uranium mill in northern Saskatchewan contain elevated trace metals, some of which are associated with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cells and tissues causing oxidative stress. The potential for oxidative stress was assessed in juvenile (age 1+) northern pike (Esox lucius) collected from two exposure (high and low) and one reference lake near the Key Lake operation. The concentrations of total, reduced and oxidized glutathione and the ratio of oxidized to reduced glutathione in liver and kidney did not differ significantly among pike collected from exposure and reference lakes, with the exception of low exposure pike kidney that had significantly greater oxidized glutathione and ratio of oxidized to reduced glutathione. The concentrations of by-products of lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde and 4-hydroxyalkenal) were significantly greater in kidney of pike collected from the reference lake compared to both exposure lakes. The activity of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase in liver was greater in pike collected from the high exposure lake compared to the reference lake. Histopathological evaluations revealed greater pathology in reference lake pike as indicated by a greater number of pyknotic and fragmented nuclei and dilated tubules as well as a thickening of Bowman's capsule in kidney, and as a thickening of the primary filament epithelial padding in gills. In liver, hepatocyte morphology, including transsectional area and degree of vacuolation, differed among lakes without any clear signs of pathology. Trace metal analyses of muscle showed that eight elements (arsenic, cobalt, copper, iron, molybdenum, selenium, thallium, and uranium) were significantly elevated in pike collected from both exposure lakes compared to reference. These results provide only limited evidence of oxidative stress in exposure pike tissues and no evidence of histopathology despite indications that trace metals, most notably arsenic and selenium, were bioaccumulating in tissue.
Medical screening and biomedical monitoring violate individual rights. Such conflicts of right with right are acted upon synergistically by uncertainty which, in some important respects, increases rather than decreases as a result of research. Issues of rightness and wrongness, ethical issues, arise because the human beings who are subjects of medical screening and biological monitoring often have little or no option whether to be subjected to them. We identify issues of rightness and wrongness of biomedical surveillance for various purposes of occupational health and safety. We distinguish between social validity and scientific validity. We observe that principles are well established for scientific validity, but not for social validity. We support guidelines as a way forward.
The measurement of radon flux from soil surface is the useful tool for the assessment of radon-prone areas and monitoring of radon releases from uranium mining and milling residues. The accumulation chambers with hollow headspace and chambers with activated charcoal are the most used devices for these purposes. Systematic errors of the measurements strongly depend on the geometry of the chamber and diffusion coefficient of the radon in soil. The calibration system for the attestation of devices for radon flux measurements was constructed. The calibration measurements of accumulation chambers and chambers with activated charcoal were conducted. The good agreement between the results of 2D modelling of radon flux and measurements results was observed. It was demonstrated that reliable measurements of radon flux can be obtained by chambers with activated charcoal (equivalent volume ~75 l) or by accumulation chambers with hollow headspace of ~7-10 l and volume/surface ratio (height) of >15 cm.