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Uranium Poisoning

Poisoning by Uranium

Uranium poisoning refers to the physiological effects of natural as well as enriched uranium in the human body. Although it is generally poorly absorbed, adverse outcomes may occur due to a combined response to its chemical and radioactive nature, in addition to other closely associated elements.


Uranium poisoning can occur when uranium and its compounds are introduced into the body through various routes like the gastrointestinal tract, skin or lungs, in both soluble and insoluble forms. It is present naturally in the environment, but exposure has been increased in certain communities, due to industrial activities such as working in the uranium mines and mills.

The toxic effects of uranium that have been documented usually reveal because of accidental exposure to extremely high concentrations. These instances have caused fatalities through severe damage to the kidneys and lungs, which are the main target organs. The inhalation of a high quantity of uranium may lead to structural lung damage and chronic airway obstruction. In some cases, this can result in respiratory failure. Most of the uranium that is ingested undergoes rapid ejection, as part of fecal matter and the rest is promptly excreted in urine. Therefore short term subjection to abnormally elevated doses has been known to culminate in acute renal failure and death. The uranium that remains in the body is deposited in bones, where it is absorbed and persists for 1-2 years without causing symptoms [1]. The excess uranium is also deposited in kidneys and liver. Nonetheless, no other organ systems appear to be negatively affected by uranium.

Studies have shown that chronic exposure to low doses of uranium in the environment or workplace does not have a detrimental effect on health [2]. In addition, the consumption of slightly higher quantities, in drinking water, for example, do not lead to renal failure or long-term morbidity [3] [4]. Workers who are exposed to uranium as an occupational hazard do not suffer from poor health and early death because of uranium; illness, on the contrary, is often linked to the simultaneous presence of other harmful substances, such as radon and radium in uranium mines [5] [6]. Those who do sustain renal damage due to long term accumulation recover once the exposure is halted. Despite its theoretical carcinogenic potential due to its emission of alpha radiation, uranium has not practically shown such properties, and neoplastic changes are attributed to co-existing substance toxicity as well.

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  • Others, such as Ray Bristow, 42, of Hull, who was a theatre technician for 32 Field Hospital, are now wheelchair-bound.[xs4all.nl]
  • In May, the Army granted him a 40% disability pension for his migraine headaches and for a condition called idiopathic angioedema - unexplained chronic swelling. But Matthew never got the results of his Army test for DU.[cuttingedge.org]


As the kidneys are the most vulnerable to the effects of uranium poisoning, clinical examination includes urinalysis, assessment of renal function, and the identification of signs of renal disease. Common positive findings in urine include proteinuria, beta-2 microglobulin, and uranium. Conversely, the detection of the latter only indicates uranium contact, however, and helps the clinician to gauge the extent and duration of exposure. It does not necessarily convey concurrent renal damage [7]. Furthermore, it is important to clearly elicit substance exposure history, with particular attention to not only uranium, but also to other closely associated noxious material such as silica dust particles, and even medical history, as they aid and guide in diagnosis [1].


  • Researchers are still looking for simple, effective methods for the sensitive detection and effective treatment of uranium poisoning.[sciencedaily.com]
  • All of those affected were hit by shrapnel from DU tank or aircraft cannon shells during ''friendly fire'' incidents in the advance on Basra and have since received treatment for ''very low-level'' radiation poisoning.[heraldscotland.com]
  • Inhalt Chapter 12 569 Plutonium Occupational Protection Criteria 19461950 577 Current Situation 1971 589 Radiochemistry of Plutonium 595 Detection of Radioactivity 601 References 609 Treatment of Plutonium Contamination Cases 634 Summary of Plutonium[books.google.com]
  • If you are diagnosed with cancer and you want to survive the cancer avoid any and all exposure to radiation treatment. Radiation treatment of any kind is what actually kills people diagnosed with cancer.[redice.tv]


  • The prognosis, though, was good: thallium has an antidote. Still worried, Goldfarb sought the help of John Henry, a brilliant toxicologist at London’s St. Mary’s Hospital who was famous in Litvinenko’s circle for his ability to spot poisonings.[medium.com]


  • THE identification of etiologic agents in chronic-disease epidemiology depends on sound study design, rigorous analytical methods and definitive criteria for evaluation.[nejm.org]


  • Author Affiliations BETHESDA, MARYLAND, AND SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH † Statistician, Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute. ‡ Medical director, Division of Occupational Health Field Station. § Head, Special Studies Section, Epidemiology Branch, National[nejm.org]
  • Compensation Program Navajo Uranium Miners Fight for Compensation Radiation Exposure Screening & Education Human Radiation Experiments Native American Cancer Research Partnership CDC CDC: Radiation Emergencies ATSDR: Radon ATSDR: Uranium DOE's Comprehensive Epidemiologic[geoinfo.nmt.edu]
  • This may be due to the difficulty of performing epidemiological studies involving such doses. However, there is also some recent biological evidence for a threshold in carcinogenic effects for both radiation and chemical damage. 4.[ec.europa.eu]
  • According to a report by the Navajo Epidemiology Center, by 2004, cancer had become the leading cause of illness and death for the Navajo , a generally nonsmoking population. “Everything here makes us and the animals sick,” Gregory said.[earthisland.org]
  • However, adverse kidney effects have not been demonstrated in epidemiologic studies of populations in Canada and Europe that consumed water containing high levels of natural uranium for decades, so it is quite likely that you and your family are free[hps.org]
Sex distribution
Age distribution


  • 589 Radiochemistry of Plutonium 595 Detection of Radioactivity 601 References 609 Treatment of Plutonium Contamination Cases 634 Summary of Plutonium Internal Deposition Experience 643 Chapter 3 165 Uranium Compounds Applied to the Skin 171 Attempted Prevention[books.google.com]
  • Finally, we continue to strategically file state and federal lawsuits to prevent proposed mining projects that would endanger drinking water supplies.[impactfund.org]
  • Brim is closely following a trial in New York, where – despite a precedent that prevents military personnel from suing the government for injuries resulting from their service – eight National Guard veterans have won the right to be heard about their[muslimobserver.com]
  • Rana, Yudhvir (18 Jun 2010). " ' Action on this 1995 study could have played a huge role in preventing the indiscriminate poisoning of Punjab children" . The Times of India . "Toxic Troubles" .[en.wikipedia.org]



  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Case study in environmental medicine: taking an exposure history. Available: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=33. Published June 5, 2015. Updated Aug 9, 2016. Accessed Mar 28, 2017.
  2. Boice JD, Mumma MT, Blot WJ. Cancer incidence and mortality in populations living near uranium milling and mining operations in Grants, New Mexico, 1950–2004. Radiat Res. 2010;174(5):624–636.
  3. Kurttio P, Auvinen A, Salonen L, et al. Renal effects of uranium in drinking water. Environ Health Perspect. 2002;110(4):337-342.
  4. Kurttio P, Harmoinen A, Saha H, et al. Kidney toxicity of ingested uranium from drinking water. Am J Kidney Dis. 2006;47(6):972-982.
  5. MacFarlane GJ, Hotopf M, Maconochie N, Blatchley N, Richards A, Lunt M. Long-term mortality amongst Gulf War Veterans: is there a relationship with experiences during deployment and subsequent morbidity? Int J Epidemiol. 2005;34(6):1403–1408.
  6. Boice JD, Cohen SS, Mumma MT, Chadda B, Blot WJ. A cohort study of uranium millers and miners of Grants, New Mexico, 1979–2005. J Radiol Prot. 2008;28(3):303–325.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Available: https://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/pdf/fourthreport.pdf. Published Feb 2009. Accessed Mar 28, 2017.

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Last updated: 2018-06-22 06:22