Absorption and Retention of Uranium From Drinking Water by Rats and Rabbits

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Abstract

Uranium in the form of uranyl nitrate hexahydrate was administered in drinking water to Sprague-Dawley rats for periods of 28 and 91 d and New Zealand White rabbits for 91 d. The animals consumed food and water ad libitum. Subgroups of rabbits were followed for recovery periods of up to 91 d; 24-h collections of urine and feces were performed for some of the rabbits at various times during the exposure and recovery periods. At the end of the experiment, all animals were sacrificed and femur and kidney samples were analyzed for uranium residues. The results show that both rats and rabbits absorb about 0.06% of ingested uranium in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The distribution and retention of uranium in the skeleton and kidneys of rats are comparable to parameters reported for humans. The retention half-time in rabbit bone is substantially longer than for humans. The implications of extrapolating from animal data to effects on humans are discussed.

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