Uranium is a naturally-occurring radioactive metal and may cause adverse health effects related to both its radiological and chemical properties. As a heavy metal, uranium primarily damages the kidneys and urinary system. While there have been many studies of environmental and occupational exposure to uranium and associated renal effects in the adult population, there have been very few studies of other adverse health effects.

There is limited epidemiologic and toxicological data regarding uranium exposure and adverse birth and reproductive health outcomes. Addressing these knowledge gaps is essential to prevent and/or mitigate current and future exposures and adverse health outcomes to the Navajo Nation. Several potential health effects of uranium are of particular concern to susceptible populations such as infants, children, and those of reproductive age. Although uranium is a suspected teratogen, epidemiological studies are needed to document individual biomarker exposure to uranium and to differentiate the health effects of uranium from that of other teratogens.

Page last reviewed: June 30, 2015