The U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs depleted uranium exposed cohort at 25 Years: Longitudinal surveillance results

Environ Res. 2017 Jan;152:175-184. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.10.016. Epub 2016 Oct 25.

Abstract

Background: A small group of Gulf War I veterans wounded in depleted uranium (DU) friendly-fire incidents have been monitored for health changes in a clinical surveillance program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baltimore since 1994.

Methods: During the spring of 2015, an in-patient clinical surveillance protocol was performed on 36 members of the cohort, including exposure monitoring for total and isotopic uranium concentrations in urine and a comprehensive assessment of health outcomes.

Results: On-going mobilization of U from embedded fragments is evidenced by elevated urine U concentrations. The DU isotopic signature is observed principally in participants possessing embedded fragments. Those with only an inhalation exposure have lower urine U concentration and a natural isotopic signature.

Conclusions: At 25 years since first exposure to DU, an aging cohort of military veterans continues to show no U-related health effects in known target organs of U toxicity. As U body burden continues to accrue from in-situ mobilization from metal fragment depots, and increases with exposure duration, critical tissue-specific U concentration thresholds may be reached, thus recommending on-going surveillance of this veteran cohort.

Keywords: DU bio-monitoring; Health surveillance; Uranium toxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Baltimore
  • Gulf War*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Uranium / toxicity*
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*

Substances

  • Uranium