The Quantitative Analysis of Uranium Isotopes in the Urine of an Ammunition Clean-up Worker deployed on Dutch North Sea Islands
European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM), Barcelona, Spain, 12.-16.10.2019.
The military training sites on the Dutch Islands Vlieland and Terschelling in the North Sea are used for military target practice including uranium weapons. Civilians are employed on those islands to collect projectiles, debris and remove tank wrecks.
One subject involved in the clean-up reported severe multiple health problems (i.e. general weakness, problems with lung function and blood cells/leukemia) after approximately two weeks of work on the testing sites.
A 24-hour urine analysis with ICP-MS were performed by Jülich laboratory four years after exposure to determine the concentration and precise isotopic composition of three uranium isotopes (234U, 235U, 238U) in the urine specimen.
The analysis measured a 234U concentration of 5.6E-04 ng/l (1.3E-4 Bq/l) and a 238U concentration of 1.13E+01 ng/l (1.4E-4 Bq/l).) The 238U/234U ratio was 17 417, normally indicative of natural uranium. 235U reported as non-detectable indicates a rather unusual result inconsistent with other population studies.
The total uranium concentration measured in urine of the subject years after exposure is below the mean concentration of uranium urine excretion in Germany (21.5 ng/d ± 19.4 SD). However, this does not rule out the possibility of an initial contamination of the lung with uranium from uranium containing weapon systems at time zero that exceed permitted levels since uranium might have been metabolised several years after inhalation. Further research especially into the environmental contamination is warranted.
Emergency Readiness in the Current Nuclear Age - An Educational Challenge
Klimaschewski, Frank; Campkin, Fiona, 23rd Nuclear Medical Defence Conference (ConRad), Munich, Germany, 05 2019.
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