Urinary uranium concentrations in an enlarged Gulf War veteran cohort

M. A. McDiarmid, S. M. Engelhardt, M. Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Depleted uranium was first used on a large scale as a major component of munitions and armaments employed by the U.S. armed forces during the Gulf War in 1991. In response to concern that exposure to depleted uranium may have been a cause of health problems suffered by returning veterans of that war, an already existing surveillance program following depleted uranium "friendly fire" victims was enlarged to assess the wider veteran community's exposure to depleted uranium. Between August 1998 and December 1999, 169 Gulf War veterans submitted 24-h urine samples for determination of urinary uranium concentration and questionnaires describing their potential exposures to depleted uranium while in the Gulf War theatre. Depleted uranium exposure assessment was determined from 30 separate questionnaire items condensed into 19 distinct exposure scenarios. Results of urine uranium analysis were stratified into high and low uranium groups with 0.05 μg uranium/g creatinine being the cut point and approximate upper limit of the normal population distribution. Twelve individuals (7.1%) exhibited urine uranium values in the high range, while the remaining 157 had urine uranium values in the low range. A repeat test of urine for 6 of these 12 produced uranium results in the low range for 3 of these individuals. Exposure scenarios of the high and low uranium groups were similar with the presence of retained shrapnel being the only scenario predictive of a high urine uranium value. Results emphasize the unlikely occurrence of an elevated urine uranium result and consequently any uranium-related health effects in the absence of retained depleted uranium metal fragments in the veterans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-273
Number of pages4
JournalHealth Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Depleted
  • Excretion
  • Health effects
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Uranium
  • Urinary

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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