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Uranium Production Waste Impact upon Kirgizian Population

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Environmental Monitoring to Assess Uranium Production Waste Impact upon Kirgizian Population Health and Gene Pool

Tech Area / Field

  • BIO-RAD/Radiobiology/Biotechnology
  • MED-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Medicine
  • BIO-CGM/Cytology, Genetics and Molecular Biology/Biotechnology
  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
  • ENV-SPC/Solid Waste Pollution and Control/Environment

Status
3 Approved without Funding

Registration date
11.02.2004

Leading Institute
Kyrgyz-Russian Slavonic University, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek

Supporting institutes

  • VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov\nA.I. Burnazyan Federal Medical and Biophysical Center, Russia, Moscow

Collaborators

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, CA, Livermore\nUniversität Hannover / Zentrum für Strahlenschutz und Radioekologie (ZSR), Germany, Hannover\nUniversity of Kansas Medical Center / Department of Radiation Oncology, USA, KS, Kansas City

Project summary

Increasing number of nuclear weapon countries leads to a higher risk of contamination with radionuclides, which may migrate largely as a result of nuclear testing and/or nuclear industry accidents. Alongside, the population exposure to low ionizing radiation dozes expands.

Health of the population around nuclear cites becomes a serious environmental and social problem. Mines for uranium ore extraction and respective reprocessing plants, which were in active operation in Kirgizia (a republic of former USSR) until the beginning of 90-s, come within that category.

Presently, the uranium extraction and reprocessing is terminated in Kirgizia. However, in the country dozens of uranium slurry reservoirs and non-conditioned uranium ore dumps still exist near to residential areas. For the most part, there are not re-cultivated and stay in a close to accident condition, while natural disasters (rock slide; avalanches; earthquakes) rather probable in Kirgizia present a real threat as to vast territorial contamination.

The radiation contamination problem in Kirgizia becomes looks even more acute from the standpoint of a closer attention of the world community to research of durable exposure of human populations to low radiation including from radionuclides.

In this connection, it required a strategy of the population health protection and improvement. This is critical for the destiny of future generations.

The goal of the proposed Project is to develop environmental monitoring system specifically for assessment of uranium production waste impact upon Kirgizia population health and gene pool.

Monitoring includes:

  • Very accurate assessment of uranium and its side products contamination of water; soil; air and food in certain regions of Kirgizia;
  • Assessment of the population health and carcinogenic risk;
  • Assessment of gene pool of population living in the contaminated areas of Kirgizia;
  • Early clinical diagnostics (including for cancer) of population living in the contaminated areas of Kirgizia.

In order to facilitate the monitoring, it will be used unique equipment developed in RFNC-VNIIEF and original technologies, i.e. such methods as:
  • Neutron activation analysis (NAA) using automated spectrometric complex “DIAGNOSIS” and unique pulsed nuclear reactor VIR-2M;
  • Radiochemical and gamma-spectral methods to provide a highly accurate assessment of uranium and its side products contamination of the terrain and food in certain regions in Kirgizia;
  • Defining gene type using electrophoretic separation of blood proteins and genome DNA (EPh), in order for the first time to assess the condition of the population gene pool in the contaminated areas of Kirgizia;
  • Analysis of micro-nuclei in bi-nuclear blood cells, in order to identify and assess the DNA damage of the population in the contaminated areas of Kirgizia;
  • Defining genetic diathesis to diseases connected with the HLA genes. It will be conducted an early clinical diagnostics (including for cancer) of the population;
  • Epidemiological examination using original computational techniques, in order to assess health and cancerogenous risk of the population living in the contaminated areas of Kirgizia. These methods were developed and used efficiently in GNC RF IBP to assess the Urals population health, as well as health of people exposed to radiation as a result of Chernobyl accident.

Advantages of proposed methods:
- Higher number of chemical elements detected with the NAA method per a single sample of native substance;
- High accuracy of detecting micro impurities in native substance samples;
- High sensitivity to uranium and other natural radionuclides in all environments;
- Possibility to conduct the measurements and perform computer-aided analysis of measuring data in parallel using the automatic spectrometric complex “DIAGNOSIS”;
- Possibility to measure and analyze 100-150 samples for several thousandth of a second using unique pulsed nuclear reactor VIR-2M;
- Fast genetic screening of a large group of people (250 persons per month);
- User-friendliness; mobility and low cost of genetic analyzing equipment;
- High informative content of all the techniques comprising the method;
- Credibility of the results.

In the course of the Project the following tasks will be accomplished:

  • Conduct of highly accurate estimate the contamination with uranium and its side products of water; soil; air and food stuffs in several regions of Kirgizia;
  • Formation of representative cohort from the population of contaminated regions of Kirgizia that have clinically proven diagnoses;
  • Formation of cohorts of practically healthy persons from Kirgizia and Russia;
  • Medical examination of these chosen people using clinical and in-lab methods, as well as special equipment;
  • Immunology and genetic examination of the cohorts formed;
  • Gene type analysis of each person from the cohorts using the HLA and EF methods;
  • Estimate of DNA damage of the population from the contaminated areas using the method of micro-nuclei in bi-nuclei blood cells;
  • Identification of gene combinations and enzyme markers of the genes that are associated with different diseases caused by unfavorable chronicle exposure of people to radiation;
  • Formation of risk groups based on adaptation abilities of people living in the regions under observation.

The Project implementation will allow addressing the following acute scientific and social problems:
  • Compile the map of contamination with uranium and its side products of certain territories in Kirgizia;
  • Estimate for the first time a carcinogenic risk for the population of Kirgizia living near to uranium slurry reservoirs and non-conditioned uranium ore dumps;
  • Analyze for the first time of the gene pool for the population in contaminated areas of Kirgizia;
  • Estimate a probable damage inflicted by industrial uranium extraction and reprocessing to the health of people living in the region;

Based on the project results it will be possible:
- Develop along-term system for monitoring health of the people making up the cohorts (epidemiological registry);
- Recommend a combination of methods for health assessment of population living in other technogenous contamination regions, including for use at the international level.

Commercial value of the Project deals with obtaining unique data for:

  • Development of scientifically reasonable radiation protection regulations based on real risk assessment;
  • Suitability estimate of areas previously contaminated with radionuclides for living and industry deployment.

Expected Results and Their Application

In the course of the project it is planned to accomplish the following:

  • Compile the map of contamination with uranium and its side products of certain territories in Kirgizia;
  • Estimate for the first time a carcinogenic risk for the population of Kirgizia living near to uranium slurry reservoirs and non-conditioned uranium ore dumps;
  • Analyze for the first time of the gene pool for the population in contaminated areas of Kirgizia;
  • Estimate a probable damage inflicted by industrial uranium extraction and reprocessing to the health of people living in the region.

In the fulfillment of the Project there will be involved highly qualified specialists in radio-biology; bio-chemical genetics; cyto-genetics; radio-chemistry; physics; mathematics and computer science including those formerly employed in nuclear weapon development.


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