A COMPARTMENTAL MODEL OF URANIUM IN HUMAN HAIR FOR PROTRACTED INGESTION OF NATURAL URANIUM IN DRINKING WATER

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Abstract

Abstract—

To predict uranium in human hair due to chronic exposure through drinking water, a compartment representing human hair was added into the uranium biokinetic model developed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The hair compartmental model was used to predict uranium excretion in human hair as a bioassay indicator due to elevated uranium intakes. Two excretion pathways, one starting from the compartment of plasma and the other from the compartment of intermediate turnover soft tissue, are assumed to transfer uranium to the compartment of hair. The transfer rate was determined from reported uranium contents in urine and in hair, taking into account the hair growth rate of 0.1 g d−1. The fractional absorption in the gastrointestinal tract of 0.6% was found to fit best to describe the measured uranium levels among the users of drilled wells in Finland. The ingestion dose coefficient for 238U, which includes its progeny of 234Th, 234mPa, and 234Pa, was calculated equal to 1.3 × 10−8 Sv Bq−1 according to the hair compartmental model. This estimate is smaller than the value of 4.5 × 10−8 Sv Bq−1 published by ICRP for the members of the public. In this new model, excretion of uranium through urine is better represented when excretion to the hair compartment is accounted for and hair analysis can provide a means for assessing the internal body burden of uranium. The model is applicable for chronic exposure as well as for an acute exposure incident. In the latter case, the hair sample can be collected and analyzed even several days after the incident, whereas urinalysis requires sample collection shortly after the exposure. The model developed in this study applies to ingestion intakes of uranium.

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