The levels of Uranium (U) in hair usually reflect levels of U in other tissues. However, hair may be externally contaminated by shampoos or hair products that contain U.
U is a nonessential element that is very abundant in rock, particularly granite, lignite, monazite sands, and phosphate rocks. U is present at widely varying levels in drinking water, root vegetables, and present in high phosphate fertilizers. Other sources of U include: ceramics, some colored glass, many household products and tailings from U mines. Spent U rods have been milled into armor piercing bullets and missile heads.
Uranyl cations bind tenaciously to protein, phosphate, nucleotides, and bone, where it substitutes for Ca. Published data are sparse, but there appears to be a correlation between U exposure, nephrotoxicity and cancer. Kidney and bone are the primary sites of U accumulation.
All isotopes of U are radioactive; 238U is the most abundant and lowest energy emitter. It is important to note that the measured result, which is 238U, does NOT necessarily indicate or imply exposure to highly enriched 235U, which is used in nuclear power and weaponry.
Chronic fatigue is often reported in association with hair U levels >0.5 µg/g.
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