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Urinary isotopic analysis in the UK Armed Forces: No evidence of depleted uranium absorption in combat and other personnel in Iraq
  1. Duncan J Bland (duncanbland{at}yahoo.co.uk)
  1. Kings Centre for Military Health Research, Kings College London, United Kingdom
    1. Roberto J Rona (roberto.rona{at}iop.kcl.ac.uk)
    1. Kings Centre for Military Health Research, Kings College London, United Kingdom
      1. David Coggon (dnc{at}mrc.soton.ac.uk)
      1. MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre (University of Southampton), United Kingdom
        1. James Anderson (jsanderson{at}btinternet.com)
        1. Formerly Scientifics Ltd, Harwell International Business Centre, United Kingdom
          1. Neil Greenberg (sososanta{at}aol.com)
          1. Kings Centre for Military Health Research, Kings College London, United Kingdom
            1. Lisa Hull (l.hull{at}iop.kcl.ac.uk)
            1. Kings Centre for Military Health Research, Kings College London, United Kingdom
              1. Simon Wessely (s.wessely{at}iop.kcl.ac.uk)
              1. Kings Centre for Military Health Research, Kings College London, United Kingdom

                Abstract

                Objectives: To assess the distribution and risk factors of DU uptake in military personnel who had taken part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Methods: Sector field inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (SF-ICP-MS) was used to determine the uranium concentration and 238U/235U isotopic ratio in spot urine samples. We collected urine samples from four groups identified a priori as having different potential for exposure to DU. These groups were: combat personnel (n=199); non-combat personnel (n=96); medical personnel (n=22); and “clean-up” personnel (n=24) who had been involved in the maintenance, repair or clearance of potentially contaminated vehicles in Iraq. A short questionnaire was used to ascertain individual experience of circumstances in which DU exposure might have occurred. Results: There was no statistically significant difference in the 238U/235U ratio between groups. Mean ratios by group varied from 138.0 (95% CI 137.3-138.7) for clean-up personnel to 138.2 (95% CI 138.0-138.5) for combat personnel, and were close to the ratio of 137.9 for natural uranium. The two highest individual ratios (146.9 and 147.7) were retested using more accurate, multiple collector inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) and found to be within measurement of error of that for natural uranium. There were no significant differences in isotope ratio between participants according to self-reported circumstances of potential DU exposure. Conclusions: Based on measurements using a SF-ICP-MS apparatus, our study provides reassurance following concern for potential widespread DU uptake in the UK military. The rare occurrence of elevated ratios may reflect the limits of accuracy of the SF-ICP-MS apparatus and not a real increase from the natural proportions of the isotopes. Any uptake of DU among participants in this study sample would be very unlikely to have any implications for health. Keywords: Military, 238U/235U, Iraq War, Depleted Uranium, SF-ICP-MS

                • 238U/235U
                • Depleted Uranium
                • Iraq War
                • Military
                • SF-ICP-MS

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