Maternal ingestion of radon-222 in drinking water and the absorbed radiation dose to the embryo

Stephen King, The University of Texas School of Public Health

Abstract

Maternal ingestion of high concentrations of radon-222 (Rn-222) in drinking during pregnancy may pose a significant radiation hazard to the developing embryo. The effects of ionizing radiation to the embryo and fetus have been the subject of research, analyses, and the development of a number of radiation dosimetric models for a variety of radionuclides. Currently, essentially all of the biokinetic and dosimetric models that have been developed by national and international radiation protection agencies and organizations recommend calculating the dose to the mother's uterus as a surrogate for estimating the dose to the embryo. Heretofore, the traditional radiation dosimetry models have neither considered the embryo a distinct and rapidly developing entity, the fact that it is implanted in the endometrial layer of the uterus, nor the physiological interchanges that take place between maternal and embryonic cells following the implantation of the blastocyst in the endometrium. The purpose of this research was to propose a new approach and mathematical model for calculating the absorbed radiation dose to the embryo by utilizing a semiclassical treatment of alpha particle decay and subsequent scattering of energy deposition in uterine and embryonic tissue. The new approach and model were compared and contrasted with the currently recommended biokinetic and dosimetric models for estimating the radiation dose to the embryo. The results obtained in this research demonstrate that the estimated absorbed dose for an embryo implanted in the endometrial layer of the uterus during the fifth week of embryonic development is greater than the estimated absorbed dose for an embryo implanted in the uterine muscle on the last day of the eighth week of gestation. This research provides compelling evidence that the recommended methodologies and dosimetric models of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and International Commission on Radiological Protection employed for calculating the radiation dose to the embryo from maternal intakes of radionuclides, including maternal ingestion of Rn-222 in drinking water would result in an underestimation of dose.

Subject Area

Toxicology|Public health

Recommended Citation

King, Stephen, "Maternal ingestion of radon-222 in drinking water and the absorbed radiation dose to the embryo" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3258578.
https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/dissertations/AAI3258578

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