Recent aspects of uranium toxicology in medical geology

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Uranium (U) is a chemo-toxic, radiotoxic and even a carcinogenic element. Due to its radioactivity, the effects of U on humans health have been extensively investigated. Prolonged U exposure may cause kidney disease and cancer. The geological distribution of U radionuclides is still a great concern for human health. Uranium in groundwater, frequently used as drinking water, and general environmental pollution with U raise concerns about the potential public health problem in several areas of Asia. The particular paleo-geological hallmark of India and other Southern Asiatic regions enhances the risk of U pollution in rural and urban communities. This paper highlights different health and environmental aspects of U as well as uptake and intake. It discusses levels of U in soil and water and the related health issues. Also described are different issues of U pollution, such as U and fertilizers, occupational exposure in miners, use and hazards of U in weapons (depleted U), U and plutonium as catalysts in the reaction between DNA and H2O2, and recycling of U from groundwater to surface soils in irrigation. For use in medical geology and U research, large databases and data warehouses are currently available in Europe and the United States.

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