Authors:J. Lipsztein, D. Grynspan, B. Dantas, L. Bertelli, and M. Wrenn
The main objective of this paper is to point out problems associated with interpretation of bioassay monitoring in view of the existing biokinetic models. The exposure to thorium in Brazil is given in this paper as an example of the seriousness of the problem.
Authors:A. Azeredo, L. Julião, M. Santos, D. Melo, and J. Lipsztein
Internal contamination with radioactive materials of mining workers is a common problem in Brazil. This is caused by the presence of uranium, thorium, and their natural decay series associated with the mined ore. The clear examples are the workers at the niobium mine located in the state of Goiás. The niobium is associated with considerable quantities of uranium and thorium, but the mine is not legally subject to radiation protection requirements.Twenty mine workers were evaluated using in vitro bioassay techniques (urine and feces). The fecal samples were analyzed by alpha spectrometry using the method developed in the Bioassay Laboratory of the Instituto de Radioproteção e Dosimetria/CNEN which evaluates thorium and uranium isotopes simultaneously. Minor modifications were introduced to measure a higher level of activity, around 1 Bq of uranium per sample. The urine samples were analyzed by alpha spectrometry for thorium and by fluorimetry for uranium. The results obtained show that a control of the occupationally-exposed workers is necessary.
Authors:L. Bertelli, A. Puerta, M. Wrenn, and J. Lipsztein
Literature data from in vivo chest measurements and urinary excretion rates of individuals exposed to U3O8 and UO2 were used to compare the results predicted by different models with empirical observations in humans. As a result the use of the respiratory tract model proposed in ICRP Publication 66 with its default absorption parameters underestimates urinary excretion of inhaled U3O8 and UO2. The new respiratory tract model also overpredicts the Fecal/Urine activity ratio, independently of the systemic model. For U3O8 and UO2 the choice of systemic model has very little influence on the predicted urinary excretion of inhaled compounds. On the other way, the choice of the respiratory tract model does influence the predicted urinary excretion significantly. In this work specific absorption parameters for U3O8 and UO2 were derived to be used in the respiratory tract model proposed in ICRP Publication 66. The predicted biokinetics of these compounds were compared with those derived for Type M and Type S compounds of uranium.
Authors:L. Julião, A. Azeredo, M. Santos, D. Melo, B. Dantas, and J. Lipsztein
This study is a comparison between bioassay data of thorium-exposed workers from two different facilities. The first of these facilities is a monazite sand extraction plant. Isotopic equilibrium between232Th and228Th was not observed in excreta samples of these workers. The second facility is a gas mantle factory. An isotopic equilibrium between232Th and228Th was observed in excreta samples. Whole body counter measurements have indicated a very low intake of thorium through inhalation. As the concentration of thorium in feces was very high we concluded that the main pathway of entrance of the nuclide was ingestion, mainly via contamination through dirty hands.The comparison between the bioassay results of workers from the two facilities shows that the lack of Th isotopic equilibrium observed in the excretion from the workers at the monazite sand plant possibly occurred due to an additional Th intake by ingestion of contaminated fresh food. This is presumably because228Ra is more efficiently taken up from the soil by plants, in comparison to228Th or232Th, and subsequently,228Th grows in from its immediate parent,228Ra.