The United States Transuranium & Uranium Registries (USTUR) is a research program that studies actinide elements deposited within the human body – in persons with measurable, documented exposures to those elements.
The Registries are operated by the Washington State University (WSU) College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, with administrative offices and laboratory facilities in Richland, Washington.
The Registries are funded by a grant from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Health, Safety, and Security.
What do we do?
The USTUR studies the biokinetics, dosimetry, and possible biological effects of actinides such as uranium, plutonium, americium, and thorium in humans.
Samples of body organs are acquired post-mortem from volunteer donors who worked with actinide elements and who had a documented intake of one or more of these radionuclides.
Scientific data from partial and whole body donations are de-identified and made available for scientists interested in studying the distribution and dosimetry of actinide elements in the human body.
Who are our donors?
USTUR donors have typically worked at government sites where plutonium, americium, or uranium were processed. Many worked at these sites during the development of nuclear weapons or during the cold-war years. Some of these sites include Hanford, Rocky Flats, Los Alamos, Savannah River, Fernald, and Mound.
More recent donors include uranium milling and mining workers as well as workers from privately owned plants that process actinide elements for industrial use.
All Registries donors are voluntary and the USTUR rigorously protects the personal privacy of all donor records.
Who utilizes USTUR data?
Committees of the ICRP and NCRP – Committees of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) use biokinetic data to recommend exposure limits and biokinetic models that describe the distribution of radioactive elements in the human body. These models can then be used to calculate radiation doses to the body organs.
National and International Groups of Scientists – Scientists interested in studying tissue doses, actinide deposition in the human body, health effects, and related topics have access to radiochemistry, health physics, and pathology data from USTUR Registrants.
Former Employers – The former employers of USTUR Registrants compare measured actinide contents of organs with estimates based upon bioassay methods such as urinalysis. These comparisons enable them to adjust and validate the mathematical equations that they use to estimate body burdens.
What health effects have been observed?
Evaluation of the causes of death of USTUR donors has shown no appreciable differences from the causes of death observed in the majority of the U. S. population.
USTUR data also does not show any relationships between the causes of death and exposures to the actinide elements.
The average age of living USTUR Registrants is 76 years (range 35-96 years) and the average age at death of deceased donors is 66 years (25-95 years).