A REVIEW OF LABORATORY ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS RELATED TO THE RADIOBIOLOGY OF TRITIUM. Page: 11 of 22
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radiation exposure following tritium oxide intake; with the reservation
that certain low-water-content tissues--like bone and fat--will receive
a substantially lower exposure than the remainder of the body. There
would seem to be only a couple of possibly complicating features of
tritium toxicity. One of these has already been considered by Dr. Person--
the question of possible transmutation effects--i.e., the damage sustained
by a molecule that suddenly finds a helium atom where a hydrogen atom
ought to be. The conclusion from cellular level studies seems to be that
such transmutation effects do not add significantly to the ionizing radiation
effects. I know of no animal studies that would dispute this conclusion.
The other possibly complicating feature of tritium toxicity is the
question of the intrinsic biological effectiveness of such a weakly
energetic beta. The LET of these betas is higher than that of more
energetic betas or x-- or gamma rays, and a considerable effort has gone
into attempts to demonstrate an RBE for tritium that is greater than unity.
Although a number of values, based on a variety of experimental endpoints,
have been reported in the range from 1 to 2, the experimental uncertainty
in most of these values is such that one feels little confidence in-
accepting any particular value greater than one. Committee 2 of the
ICRP adopted a value of 1.7 for its calculations of internal dose, in its
1959 report (16). However, it is likely that a value of one will be used
in the next revision of this report.
The first animal toxicity study was performed by Brues and coworkers
in the late 40's (17). They determined the 30 day-LD50 for intraperitoneally
injected tritium oxide in Cf-l mice, and arrived at a value of "about 1 mCi
per gram." Converting such an observation to radiation dose, and comparing
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Thompson, R. C. A REVIEW OF LABORATORY ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS RELATED TO THE RADIOBIOLOGY OF TRITIUM., report, January 1, 1971; Richland, Washington. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1030877/m1/11/: accessed May 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.