Biologic monitoring and surveillance results for the department of veterans affairs' depleted uranium cohort: Lessons learned from sustained exposure over two decades
Background A small group of Gulf War I veterans wounded in depleted uranium (DU) friendly fire incidents have been monitored in a clinical surveillance program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baltimore since 1994.
Methods An in-patient clinical surveillance protocol was performed on 35 members of the cohort, including exposure monitoring for total and isotopic uranium concentrations in urine and a comprehensive assessment of health outcomes.
Results Although urine U concentrations continue to be elevated in this group, illustrating on-going in situ mobilization of U from embedded fragments, no consistent U-related health effects have been observed.
Conclusions Now more than 20 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 tissue concentrations continue to accrue with exposure duration, critical tissue-specific U concentration thresholds may be reached, thus recommending on-going surveillance of this veteran cohort.