A study to verify a reported excess of chromosomal aberrations in blood lymphocytes of Namibian uranium miners

D. C. Lloyd*, J. N. Lucas, Alan Edwards, W. Deng, E. Valente, P. A. Hone, Jayne Moquet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


This report describes a study to verify an earlier report of excess chromosomal damage in the blood lymphocytes of uranium miners. Coded blood samples from 10 miners and 10 controls were analyzed conventionally for unstable aberrations and by FISH for translocations. Conventional analysis, scoring 1000 metaphases per subject, showed no significant difference between miners and controls in the frequencies of chromosome- and chromatid-type aberrations. Investigators at two laboratories undertook FISH analyses, each scoring 4000 metaphases per subject. When the data from each laboratory were examined separately, one found slightly more translocations in the miners while the other found fewer. In neither case was the difference significant at the 95% level of confidence. Combining the data likewise showed no significant excess of damage in the miners. This applied to simple one- and two-way translocations and to cells with complex exchanges. There was no correlation between levels of translocations and total lifetime doses from occupational and/or background irradiation. A borderline significant excess of rogue cells was found in the miners. This may be a chance observation, as these rare, highly abnormal cells are considered to be unrelated to radiation exposure and are probably due to a virus. The overall conclusion is that the frequency of chromosomal damage in the miners did not exceed that in the controls. Therefore, the result of the earlier study was not confirmed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-817
Number of pages9
JournalRadiation Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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