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Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2003;105(1-4):171-4.

Excretion of depleted uranium by Gulf War veterans.

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  • 1Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, Oak Ridge, TN 37830, USA.


During the Persian Gulf War, in 1991, approximately 100 US military personnel had potential intakes of depleted uranium (DU), including shrapnel wounds. In 1993, the US government initiated a follow-up study of 33 Gulf War veterans who had been exposed to DU, many of whom contained embedded fragments of DU shrapnel in their bodies. The veterans underwent medical evaluation, whole-body counting, and urinalysis for uranium by kinetic phosphorescence analysis (KPA). Data are available from seven individuals who exceeded the detection limit for whole-body counting and also had elevated urinary uranium. Urinary excretion rates, in microg U g(-1) creatinine, were determined in 1997 and 1999. The body contents, in mg DU, were determined in 1997; it is assumed there were no significant decreases in total body content in the interim. For the 1997 data, the mean fractional excretion was (2.4 +/- 2.8) x 10(-5) g(-1) creatinine, and for the 1999 data, the mean was (1.1 +/- 0.6) x 10(-5) g(-1) creatinine. However, these means are not significantly different, nor is there any correlation of excretion rate with body content. Thus, human data available to date do not provide any basis for determining the effects of particle surface area, composition and solubility, and biological processes such as encapsulation, on the excretion rate.

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