uranium chemical toxicities (was Re: [ RadSafe ] IAEA DACs)

James Salsman james at bovik.org
Mon Feb 13 15:09:49 CST 2006

> The issue of the "reproductive, developmental, immunological or 
> neurotoxicities" of uranium is one that has been discussed at length
> on this  list.  As yet there hasn't been any evidence that the wider
> community (even the wider antinuclear/anti-DU) accept that uranium
> has any reproductive, developmental, immunological or neurotoxicity.

On the contrary, such evidence is published in the peer-reviewed 
medical literature, including by U.S. military agencies:

1.  Reproductive toxicity

Arfsten, D.P.; K.R. Still; G.D. Ritchie (2001) "A review of the effects 
of uranium and depleted uranium exposure on reproduction and fetal 
development," Toxicology and Industrial Health, vol. 17, pp. 180-91:
(Authors' affiliation:  Naval Health Research Center Detachment -
Toxicology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base)  Summary:  "A number of 
studies have shown that natural uranium is a reproductive toxicant...."

Hindin, R.; D. Brugge; B. Panikkar (2005) "Teratogenicity of depleted 
uranium aerosols: A review from an epidemiological perspective,"
Environmental Health, vol. 4, pp. 17.  "Conclusion:  In aggregate the 
human epidemiological evidence is consistent with increased risk of 
birth defects in offspring of persons exposed to DU."

2.  Developmental toxicity

Domingo, J.L. (2001) "Reproductive and developmental toxicity of 
natural and depleted uranium: a review," Reproductive Toxicology, vol.
15, pp. 603-9.  Abstract:  "Decreased fertility, embryo/fetal toxicity 
including teratogenicity, and reduced growth of the offspring have 
been observed following uranium exposure at different gestation periods."

Durakovic A. (1999) "Medical effects of internal contamination with 
uranium," Croatian Medical Journal, vol. 40, pp. 49-66.  Abstract:
"well documented evidence of reproductive and developmental toxicity...."

3.  Immunological toxicity

McDiarmid, M.A., et al. (2006) "Biological monitoring and surveillance 
results of Gulf War I veterans exposed to depleted uranium," in 
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, vol. 
79, pp. 11-21.  Abstract:  "genotoxicity measures continue to show 
subtle, mixed results...."

Schröder, H.; A. Heimers; R. Frentzel-Beyme; A. Schott; W. Hoffmann 
(2003) "Chromosome aberration analysis in peripheral lymphocytes of Gulf 
war and Balkans war veterans," Radiation Protection Dosimetry, vol. 103,
pp. 211-220:
Abstract:  "there was a statistically significant increase in the 
frequency of dicentric chromosomes (dic) and centric ring chromosomes 
(cR) in the veterans. group...."

Miller, A.C.; M. Stewart; K. Brooks; L. Shi; N. Page (2003) "Depleted 
uranium-catalyzed oxidative DNA damage: absence of significant alpha 
particle decay," Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, vol. 91, pp. 246-252:
Abstract: "chemical generation of hydroxyl radicals by depleted uranium 
in vitro exceeds radiolytic generation by one million-fold...."

4.  Neurotoxicity

Briner, W. and J. Murray (2005) "Effects of short-term and long-term 
depleted uranium exposure on open-field behavior and brain lipid 
oxidation in rats," Neurotoxicology and Teratology, vol. 27, pp. 135-44:
Abstract: "DU is a toxin that crosses the blood-brain barrier, producing 
behavioral changes in male rats and lipid oxidation regardless of gender 
in as little as 2 weeks...."

Monleau, M.; C. Bussy; P. Lestaevel; P. Houpert; F. Paquet; V. Chazel
(2005) "Bioaccumulation and behavioural effects of depleted uranium in 
rats exposed to repeated inhalations," Neuroscience Letters, vol. 390,
pp. 31-6.  Abstract:  "depleted uranium is able to enter the brain after 
exposure to repeated inhalation, producing behavioral changes."

-- plus:

5.  Uranyl oxide gas vapor is an aerial combustion product of uranium

Monomeric (monomolecular) uranium trioxide gas is produced by the 
oxidation of U3O8 at temperatures above 1000° Celsius. Uranium combustion 
in air produces U3O8 particles as 75% of all particulate products 
(Gilchrist et al. 1979) at uranium's atmospheric burning temperature of 
between 2200 and 2800 Kelvin (Mouradian et al. 1963), which cool through 
the 1000 to 2000 Kelvin range, reacting with O2 to produce monomeric UO3 
gas vapor (Ackermann et al. 1960.) This reaction is "not infrequently 
ignored" (Gmelin vol. U-C1, p. 98.)

In solid form, uranium trioxide will decompose at above 150° C, by 
releasing O2, decreasing the proportion of oxygen to eventually render 
uranium dioxide under conditions of large surface area and high sustained 
heat. Individual UO3 gas vapor molecules will not decompose because 
uranium monoxide is electrovalently impossible. UO3(g) molecules will 
adhere to surfaces, precipitating out of air as nanometer-scale particles 
and film. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2004.04.001]

R.J. Ackermann, et al., "Free Energies of Formation of Gaseous Uranium,
Molybdenum, and Tungsten Trioxides," Journal of Physical Chemistry, 
vol. 64 (1960) pp. 350-355.

Mouradian and Baker (1963) "Burning Temperatures of Uranium and Zirconium 
in Air," Nuclear Science and Engineering, 15, 388-394.

Gmelin Handbook of Inorganic Chemistry, 8th ed., English translation, 
vol. U-C1 (1977), page 98.

«Gmelin Handbuch der anorganischen Chemiek» 8th ed., vol. U-C2, pp. 

Gilchrist, R.L., J.A. Glissmyer, and J. Mishima (1979) "Characterization 
of Airborne Uranium from Test Firings of XM774 Ammunition," Technical 
report no. PNL-2944, Richland, WA: Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory, 
November 1979.

-- and finally, therefore:

6.  Isotope ratio urine studies which depend on particulate uranium 
aerosol remaining un-dissolved in the lung will not correctly measure 
total inhalation exposure.

James Salsman

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