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Re: uranium in hair

The US Transuranium and Uranium Registries receive calls periodically from
persons who have had hair analyses performed; typically they are concerned
as they have been advised that the levels of U in their hair are elevated.
However, we know of no accepted values or ranges of values for U in human
hair.  U, a heavy metal, is likely excreted in hair.  The amount excreted
will be related to the intake which in turn will be a function of diet and
location; expectedly persons who live in the Colorado plateau would have
higher levels of U in the hair.  However, a number of years ago the USTUR
did some admittedly few measurements of U in hair and was unable to
establish any correlation with exposure in U workers. (Note that there is
little U absorption via the gut).  

There are also serious questions regarding the validity of the sample
analysis.  U is ubiquitous and if the sample is not properly prepared or if
certain shampoos have been used, can be a significant contaminant.  It can
also leach from glassware, or be present in dust that could contaminate the
sample.  I believe the laboratory in Chicago may be one that we have dealth
with in the past; they do not report qunatitative values, but rather give a
range designated by asterisks; they have been unable to answert the question
of where/how they establish their 'background' except to say that it is
constantly adjusted based on the thousands of analyses that they have done.

In my view, there need to be some controls on these labs, and also some data
on U in human hair.  

Ron Kathren
Professor and Director, USTUR

 03:59 PM 4/10/98 -0500, Charp, Paul wrote:
>Radsafers -- does anyone have an accepted value for uranium in hair?
>How about uranium in hair colorants?
>We received some information from a person who lives near a nuclear
>plant and believes he has been
>exposed to uranium.  The individual had hair samples analyzed from a
>"laboratory" in Chicago that found "elevated uranium"
>in the hair.
>paul charp (pac4@cdc.gov)