Biologic monitoring for urinary uranium in Gulf War I veterans

Melissa A. McDiarmid, Katherine Squibb, Susan M. Engelhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Biologic monitoring for total uranium in urine of Gulf War I veterans concerned about past exposure to depleted uranium (DU) has been offered by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense since the late 1990's. DU, a component of U.S. munitions and tank armor, was first used during that conflict. Two hundred and twenty-seven veterans submitted samples for analysis from January 2000 through December 2002, which included a 24-h urine sample for determination of total urinary uranium concentration and completed questionnaires describing their wartime exposure experiences. Thirty questionnaire items characterizing DU exposure opportunities were collapsed into 19 exposure categories. Urine uranium (U) results were stratified into low and high uranium groups with 0.05 μg U g-1 creatinine as the cut point. Exposure scenarios in the high and low uranium groups were similar in frequency and type with only the presence of retained shrapnel being predictive of a high urine uranium value, as found in the first phase of this surveillance of 169 veterans performed prior to 2000. Twenty-two veterans exhibited U levels in the high range. Isotopic analysis, available for 21 of these 22, revealed that all but three of these samples contained natural and not depleted uranium. These three participants had retained DU shrapnel as a result of their past injuries. Thus, even with an enlarged cohort, elevated urine uranium values in the absence of retained DU fragments are unlikely. The utility of isotopic analysis to more fully characterize uranium biomonitoring results is also demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Dose assessment
  • Excretion, urinary
  • Health effects
  • Uranium, depleted

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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