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Biological monitoring of iodine, a water disinfectant for long-term space missions.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


In order to establish guidelines for exposure of astronauts to iodine, used as a water disinfectant in space, we studied the usefulness of hair, saliva, and urine for biological monitoring in humans and in the human hair/nude mouse model. The monitoring of iodine in patients that received 150 mCi of Na131I (carrier-free) showed similar patterns of elimination for blood, saliva, and urine. The mean correlation coefficient (r) between iodine elimination for blood/saliva was 0.99, for blood/urine, 0.95, and for saliva/urine, 0.97. The absolute value of iodine concentrations in urine revealed marked variability, which was corrected by adjusting for creatinine levels. The autoradiographic studies of human hair demonstrated that iodine is rapidly incorporated into external layers of the hair root and can be removed easily during washing. These data were confirmed after iodine exposure using the human hair/nude mouse model. Hair does not provide satisfactory information about exposure due to unstable incorporation of iodine. The most useful medium for biological monitoring of astronauts exposed to high doses of iodine in drinking water is urine, when adjusted for creatinine, and saliva, if quantitative evaluation of flow rate is provided.

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