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On the Distribution of Uranium in Hair: Non-Destructive Analysis Using SR-μXRF
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Radiological Sciences. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4055-8688
Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, Stockholm, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Radiological Sciences. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Center for Surgery, Orthopaedics and Cancer Treatment, Department of Radiation Physics.
2015 (English)In: Spectrochimica Acta Part B - Atomic Spectroscopy, ISSN 0584-8547, E-ISSN 0031-6987, Vol. 108, 28-34 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the present study the distribution of uranium in single human hair shafts has been evaluated using two synchrotron radiation (SR) based micro X-ray fluorescence techniques; SR μ-XRF and confocal SR μ-XRF. The hair shafts originated from persons that have been exposed to elevated uranium concentrations. Two different groups have been studied, i) workers at a nuclear fuel fabrication factory, exposed mainly by inhalation and ii) owners of drilled bedrock wells exposed by ingestion of water. The measurements were carried out on the FLUO beamline at the synchrotron radiation facility ANKA, Karlsruhe. The experiment was optimized to detect U with a beam size of 6.8 μm × 3 μm beam focus allowing detection down to ppb levels of U in 10 s (SR μ-XRF setup) and 70 s (SR confocal μ-XRF setup) measurements. It was found that the uranium was present in a 10–15 μm peripheral layer of the hair shafts for both groups studied. Furthermore, potential external hair contamination was studied by scanning of unwashed hair shafts from the workers. Sites of very high uranium signal were identified as particles containing uranium. Such particles, were also seen in complementary analyses using variable pressure electron microscope coupled with energy dispersive X-ray analyzer (ESEM–EDX). However, the particles were not visible in washed hair shafts.

These findings can further increase the understanding of uranium excretion in hair and its potential use as a biomonitor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2015. Vol. 108, 28-34 p.
Keyword [en]
μ-XRF; Hair; Confocal; Uranium; Internal dosimetry
National Category
Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-108891DOI: 10.1016/j.sab.2015.04.001ISI: 000355360400005OAI: diva2:733712
Available from: 2014-07-11 Created: 2014-07-11 Last updated: 2015-06-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Chewing gum and human hair as retrospective dosimeters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Chewing gum and human hair as retrospective dosimeters
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Retrospective dosimeters are sometimes needed after radiological/nuclear (RN) exposures to determine the doses to individuals. Conventional dosimeters may not be at hand or may not be applicable calling for alternative materials.

The possible exposure situations can be divided into external and internal; the radiation field stems either from outside the body or from a source within. This thesis investigates the possibility to use chewing gum and hair as retrospective dosimeters. The chewing gum would be used after an unexpected radiation event of external type whereas human hair is examined after chronic intake of uranium. Chewing gum containing xylitol and sorbitol was analyzed using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and the hair was analyzed by alphaspectrometry following radiochemistry and by synchrotron radiation microbeam x-ray fluorescence (SR μ-XRF).

Xylitol and chewing gum (in this particular case, V6) are in the present work found to be valuable dosimeters after unexpected radiation events. The xylitol signal linearity with dose in the interval 0-10 Gy was confirmed (r2=1.00). The doses to the coating of the chewing gums were determined 4-6 days after irradiation with an uncertainty of less than 0.2 Gy (1 SD). Spectral dependence with time after exposure was found, but was, however, minimal between 4-8 days.

Hair was evaluated and compared with urine as biodosimeter after ingestion and inhalation intake of uranium. Concentrations of 234U and 238U and their activity ratios were measured in the hair, urine and drinking water sampled from 24 drilled bedrock well water users in Östergötland, Sweden, as well as among 8 workers at a nuclear fuel fabrication factory, Westinghouse Electric Sweden. The results show that there is a stronger correlation between the uranium concentrations in the drinking water of the well water and the users’ hair (r2 = 0.50) than with their urine (r2 = 0.21). There is also a stronger correlation between the 234U/238U activity ratios of water and hair (r2 = 0.91) than between water and urine (r2 = 0.56). The individual absorbed fraction of uranium, the ƒ value, calculated as the ratio between the excreted amount of uranium in urine and hair per day and the daily drinking water intake of uranium stretched from 0.002 to 0.10 with a median of 0.023. The uranium concentrations of the fuel factory workers’ hair and urine were also obtained as well as that of personal air sampler (PAS) filters for the determination of inhaled uranium activity. A large day-to-day variation (7-70 Bq d-1) of the inhaled 234U activity was seen over a 6 week period. Over a 12 week period the 234U activity concentration in urine was similarly seen to vary from 2 to 50 mBq kg-1. Four hair samples from the same subject and period showed less variation (100-240 mBq g-1). The uranium inhalation to urine and hair factors finh,u and finh,h were found to be 0.0014 and 0.0002 respectively given by calculations based on the measured PAS, urine and hair data from two individuals. The SR μ-XRF measurements showed that uranium is present in an outer layer of the hair shaft, about 10-15 μm wide. The  measurements also revealed particles containing uranium being present on the surface of unwashed hair shafts. However, the washed hair shafts showed few, if any, particles.

This thesis concludes that chewing gum and hair can be used as retrospective dosimeters after external radiation and after intake of uranium respectively.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. 58 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1408
National Category
Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging Medical Biotechnology
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-108892 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-108892 (DOI)978-91-7519-305-2 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-08-29, Berzeliussalen, ingång 65 (HU) plan 9, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2014-07-11 Created: 2014-07-11 Last updated: 2014-09-08Bibliographically approved

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Israelsson, AxelPettersson, Håkan
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Division of Radiological SciencesFaculty of Health SciencesDepartment of Radiation Physics
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