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Human exposure to natural uranium: A case history and analytical results from some postmortem tissues
  1. J. K. Donoghue1,
  2. E. D. Dyson2,
  3. J. S. Hislop,
  4. A. M. Leach3,
  5. N. L. Spoor2
  1. United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Harwell, Didcot
  2. Berks and Risley, Warrington, Lancs.


    Donoghue, J. K., Dyson, E. D., Hislop, J. S., Leach, A. M., and Spoor, N. L. (1972).Brit. J. industr. Med.,29, 81-89. Human exposure to natural uranium: a case history and analytical results from some postmortem tissues. After the collapse and sudden death of an employee who had worked for 10 years in a natural uranium workshop, in which the airborne uranium was largely U3O8 with an Activity Median Aerodynamic Diameter in the range 3·5-6·0 μm and average concentration of 300 μg/m3, his internal organs were analysed for uranium. The tissues examined included lungs (1041 g), pulmonary lymph nodes (12 g), sternum (114 g), and kidneys (217 g). Uranium was estimated by neutron activation analysis, using irradiated tissue ash, and counting the delayed neutrons from uranium-235. The concentrations of uranium (μg U/g wet tissue) in the lungs, lymph nodes, sternum, and kidneys were 1·2, 1·8, 0·09, and 0·14 respectively. The weights deposited in the lungs and lymph nodes are less than 1% of the amounts calculated from the environmental data using the parameters currently applied in radiological protection. The figures are compatible with those reported by Quigley, heartherton, and Ziegler in 1958 and by Meichen in 1962. The relation between these results, the environmental exposure data, and biological monitoring data is discussed in the context of current views on the metabolism of inhaled insoluble uranium.

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    • 1 Present address: British Nuclear Fuels Limited, Risley, Warrington, Lancs.

    • 2 National Radiological Protection Board, Harwell, Didcot, Berks.

    • 3 Medical Department, Wilton Works, Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, Eston, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire.