Biochemical and biophysical aspects of exposure to uranium

The health risks from exposure to uranium: advanced biochemical and biophysical aspects. By Chris Busby, Dept. Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Liverpool.

Abstract: Following renewed interest in uranium toxicity generated by the military use of uranium weapons, it is found that the element exhibits genomic and other harmful effects not predicted by its radioactivity (e.g. Abu Quare and Abou Donia 2002, Craft et al 2004, IRSN 2005, Bertell, 2006).  This has resulted in two schools of thought: those based on the conventional radiobiological risk assessments (e.g. Royal Society 2001, Wakeford 2001) and those pointing out that there are real genomic effects which cannot be explained or predicted (Baverstock 2005, Bertell 2006). There certainly seem to be experiments which show anomalous genomic or genetic effects (including Bosque et al 1993, Miller et al 1998-2005, Coryell and Stearns 2006,) but these are usually interpreted as implying some unelaborated ‘heavy metal’ effect for uranium. Historically, Uranium has been considered both a radiological and also a ‘heavy metal’ poison, following Calcium in its distribution within the body, i.e. building up in bone, and with the principle target for toxicity being the lung and the kidney (RS 2001).

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