Assessment of uranium exposure from total activity and 234U:238U activity ratios in urine

T. Nicholas, D. Bingham
2010 Radiation Protection Dosimetry  
Radiation workers at Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) are monitored for uranium exposure by routine bioassay sampling ( primarily urine sampling). However, the interpretation of uranium in urine and faecal results in terms of occupational intakes is difficult because of the presence of uranium due to intakes from environmental (dietary) sources. For uranium in urine data obtained using current analytical techniques at AWE, the mean, median and standard deviation of excreted uranium
more » ... ons were 0.006, 0.002 and 0.012 mg per g creatinine, respectively. These values are consistent with what might be expected from local dietary intakes and the knowledge that occupational exposures at AWE are likely to be very low. However, some samples do exceed derived investigation levels (DILs), which have been set up taking account of the likely contribution from environmental sources. We investigate how the activity and isotopic composition of uranium in the diet affects the sensitivity of uranium in urine monitoring for occupational exposures. We conclude that DILs based on both total uranium in urine activity and also 234 U: 238 U ratios are useful given the likely variation in dietary contribution for AWE workers. Assuming a background excretion rate and that the enrichment of the likely exposure is known, it is possible to assess exposures using 234 U: 238 U ratios and/or total uranium activity. The health implications of internalised uranium, enriched to <5 -8 % by mass 235 U, centre on its nephrotoxicity; the DILs for bioassay samples at AWE are an order of magnitude below the conservative recommendations made by the literature.
doi:10.1093/rpd/ncq321 pmid:21036806 fatcat:ccgs6blazjhrdbbqdhpmppouri