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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: EPR dosimetry in chemically treated fingernails

item Romanyukha, A
item Trompier, F
item Le Blanc, Blaise
item Calas, C
item Clairand, I
item Mitchell, C
item Smirniotopoulos, James
item Swartz, H

Submitted to: Elsevier
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/20/2007
Publication Date: 10/20/2007
Citation: Romanyukha, A., Trompier, F., LeBlanc, B., Calas, C., Clairand, I., Mitchell, C.A., Smirniotopoulos, J.G., Swartz, H.M. 2007. EPR dosimetry in chemically treated fingernails. ScienceDirect, Radiation Measurements 42:1110-1113.

Interpretive Summary: A method to estimate readiation dose exposure using fingernail clippings and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy (EPR) was developed. EPR is sensitive to free radicals. The free radicals are generated by the fingernail tissue forming free radicals but these radicals are also generated on the surface by the physical cutting of the tissue. To overcome this unwanted artifact sample we treated the fingernails with chemical reducing agents or antioxidants. After the method was optimized we found that we could detect well below 1 Gray (Gy) of exposure accurately. Five to 5.5 Gy is the LD-50 for human and non-human primates so this was a significant contribution to the field of radiation dosimetry. The long term goal would be to have field deployable method such as for a catastrophic use of a strategic nuclear weapon, the use of a dirty bomb or an accidental release of radiation such as from a municipal power plant.

Technical Abstract: By using EPR measurements of radiation-induced radicals it is possible to utilize human fingernails to estimate radiation dose after-the-fact. One of the potentially limiting factors in this approach is the presence of artifacts due to mechanically induced EPR signals (MIS) caused by mechanical stress during the collection and preparation of the samples and the so-called background (non-radiation) signal (BKS). The MIS and BKS have spectral parameters (shape, g-factor and linewidth) that overlap with the radiation-induced signal (RIS) and therefore, if not taken into account properly, could result in a considerable overestimation of the dose. We have investigated the use of different treatments of fingernails with chemical reagents to reduce the MIS and BKS. The most promising chemical treatment (20 min with 0.1 M dithiothreitol aqueous solution) reduced the contribution of MIS and BKS to the total intensity of EPR signal of irradiated fingernails by a factor of 10. This makes it potentially feasible to measure doses as low as 1 Gy almost immediately after irradiation. However, the chemical treatment reduces the intensity of the RIS and modifies dose dependence. This can be compensated by use of an appropriate calibration curve for assessment of dose. On the basis of obtained results it appears feasible to develop a field-deployable protocol that could use EPR measurements of samples of fingernails to assist in the triage of individuals with potential exposure to clinically significant doses of radiation.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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