Removal of Radionuclides
Development of the Laboratory-Experimental Method for Removal of Artificial and Natural Radionuclides
Tech Area / Field
- ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
- ENV-WPC/Water Pollution and Control/Environment
- MED-DRG/Drug Discovery/Medicine
3 Approved without Funding
Institute of Medical Problems of Southern Branch of the NAS KR, Kyrgyzstan, Osh
- The Scientific Centre of Radiation Medicine and Burns, Armenia, Yerevan
- University of Pisa Medical School, Italy, Pisa\nUniversity of Uppsala, Sweden, Uppsala
Project summaryThe Project aim. The goal of the project is to develop a method for removal of artificial (induced) and natural radionuclides from contaminated water through application of polymeric sorbents and to demonstrate the safe use of treated water and polymer sorbents in an experiment in animals, as well as the evaluation of radioprotective properties of developed sorbents in experiments in radiation exposed rats. Search for sorbents from local natural resources (Kyrgyz Republic) is projected during the project implementation.
Current status. Water pollution by natural radionuclides occurs in Kyrgyz Republic, where there are more than 200 dumps and tailings of uranium ores, the most hazardous sites being located in Mayluusuu uranium biogeochemical zone. Spring floods, rains, landslides lead to a sharp increase in radionuclides content in the water. Wells, springs and piped water from the wells (for the population of the Mayluusuu River Valley) are contaminated by radioactive nuclides. Some people use river water for drinking. Analysis of placenta samples collected from women who consumed water contaminated by radioactive nuclides showed the presence of uranium and thorium at concentrations up to 3.26 mg/kg and 2.22 mg/kg, respectively, aw well as their decay products. Hair samples collected from children with thyroid pathology contained radioactive nuclides at concentrations up to 1 mg/g, the other biological sample contained radioactive nuclides and their decay products, as well. Tumors, congenital abnormalities and endocrine pathologies are registered 3-4 times more frequently among the people residing in this zone as compared to those from unpolluted areas.
To maintain population health, it is therefore required to search for agents and ways to sanitize water from radioactive nuclides, neutralize and remove them from the gastrointestinal tract. For this purpose it is expedient to use the sorbents (in vitro and animal experiments) produced by the Erevan Research Institute “Plastpolymer”, Republic of Armenia, and search for similar sorbents from the local natural resources of Kyrgyzstan, as well.
In many countries, including Armenia, nuclear power plants (NPPs) are operated. NPPs operation is accompanied by the consumption of large quantities of water; waste waters of cooling systems possess high radioactivity. At the majority of NPPs liquid wastes are stored in the tanks, while the low activity water is simply discharged into nearby water reservoirs. Hence, the radionuclides are accumulated and concentrated in the bottom sediments and water organisms and get the food chains, the end-links of which can be animals and humans. Currently available decontamination programs are globally insufficient. Radionuclides can enter the human body through inhalation, ingestion, or by dermal penetration through the skin (a wound). The most dangerous radionuclides are strontium-90 and cesium-137. The existing neutralization programs are not sufficient.
Prussian blue (Ferric hexacyanoferrate) was introduced as an antidote in the USA for drug preparedness over concerns of the possibility of bioterrorism (e.g., radiologic dispersing device or “dirty bomb”) and other radiation event. However, more investigation is needed to establish the efficacy and safety of Prussian blue.
After Chernobyl disaster and the accident on the NPP Fukushima Daiichi (Japan) should serve as an opportunity to test the properties of Prussian blue monotherapy further as well as its combinations, and to improve manufacturing procedures. The development of other potential drugs to treat radioactive metal contamination should also be encouraged.
Expected results and their application. In wastes of companies on mining and processing of uranium mainly natural radionuclides (natural uranium and decay products of uranium and thorium) are present, whereas in wastes from NPP – artificial radionuclides (fission products and transuranic elements) of high activity. The joint project of Kyrgyz Republic – Republic of Armenia will enable comparing treatment of water contaminated by natural (natural uranium, decay products of uranium and thorium) and artificial radionuclides. It is necessary to compare treatment of water as the environment in the Republic of Armenia is polluted by cesium from the nuclear power plant, whereas the environment of the Kyrgyz Republic is polluted by natural uranium, thorium, radium and their decay products.
As a result of the project new and effective sorbents of radionuclides for water treatment will be designed and tested to the extent suitable for drinking by experimental animals. Experimental research of new polymeric sorbents will serve as the basis for the creation of efficient preparations (potential drugs to treat radioactive metal) and methods of their application for the population of territories contaminated with radionuclides.
Purification of water contaminated by radioactive nuclides will result in decrease of disease incidence and improvement of the gene pool of the population of radionuclide-polluted areas.
These agents can be used in case of environmental contamination by radioactive wastes (artificial radionuclides - fission products and transuranium elements that have high activity) and in the event of an accident at the nuclear power plants. ”.
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