Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology

2012 Edition
| Editors: Robert A. Meyers

Uranium in the Environment: Behavior and Toxicity

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3_294

Definition of Subject

Uranium (U) is a primordial radionuclide that is naturally present in the environment at low concentrations. Natural U is mainly a chemical hazard as opposed to a radiological hazard. The chemical speciation of U influences its bioavailability and toxicity . Under anoxic conditions, U is in the tetravalent state forming insoluble compounds and is immobile. Under oxic conditions, U is in the hexavalent state is mobile, bioavailable, and tends to have higher toxicity. Low absorption in the gut and a tendency to decrease in concentration up the food chain makes U toxicity of little concern at typical background concentrations, but at elevated concentration U may be toxic.

Considerable work has investigated the toxicity of U to humans using animal models. This work is applicable to wildlife. In comparison to mammals, little effort has focused on the toxicity of U to terrestrial plants and soil invertebrates. For some aquatic species, U toxicity decreases with an...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EcoMetrix IncorporatedMississaugaCanada