Strontium is a natural element found in rocks, soil, dust, coal and oil. Strontium that is present in the natural environment is not radioactive and is referred to as stable strontium or simply strontium. Strontium in the environment exists in four stable isotopes, 84Sr, 86Sr, 87Sr and 88Sr. Strontium compounds are used in the manufacture of ceramics and glassware, in fireworks, in colors, in fluorescent lamps and in medicines. Strontium may also be present in various radioactive isotopes, the most common being 90Sr. 90Sr is produced in nuclear reactors or during nuclear weapons explosion. Radioactive Strontium produces beta particles as it decomposes. The half-life of 90Sr is 29 years.
Exposure to fixed or radioactive strontium is caused by ingestion of contaminated food or drinking water or by inhalation of contaminated air. In children, high levels of stable strontium may affect bone growth. High levels of radioactive strontium can cause anemia or cancer.
How does strontium enter the environment?
- In the air, strontium is found as dust, which eventually settles on land and water.
- Some strontium compounds dissolve in water.
- Some of the strontium compounds in the soil may dissolve in water and penetrate deeper into the soil and groundwater.
- Radioactive decay and disinfection are the only ways to reduce 90Sr in the environment.
How is one exposed to strontium?
- One may be exposed to low levels of stable and radioactive strontium by breathing air and through the consumption of food and water.
- Food and drinking water are the major sources of exposure to strontium.
- One can be exposed to radioactive strontium if one consumes food grown in contaminated soil or is near a source of radioactive strontium.
How can strontium affect health?
Exposure to low levels of stable strontium has not been shown to affect adult health but may cause damage to the bones of developing children.
High levels of radioactive strontium can cause bone marrow damage and cause anemia and bleeding as well as bone cancer.
Strontium is physically and chemically similar to calcium, and the human body absorbs strontium as if it were calcium. A special salt of strontium is used for osteoporosis. Strontium in large doses stimulates bone formation and reduces bone resorption. Half of the increase in bone density is due to the fact that strontium has a higher atomic density than calcium, while the other half is due to the actual increase in bone mass.
It has been found that when applied topically, strontium speeds up skin regeneration.
How can the risk of exposure to strontium be reduced?
Having a balanced diet with adequate amounts of Vitamin D, calcium and protein reduces the amount of strontium absorbed.
How can one determine if one has been exposed to strontium?
All people have small amounts of fixed strontium in their body. There are two types of tests. One is to check for exposure to large doses of radiation and the other is to check for the presence and the quantity of strontium in the body. The first type of test looks for changes in blood cells or chromosomes, but it is not possible to determine whether the radiation derives from strontium itself. The second type of test includes blood, stool, urine and saliva tests.
We can measure strontium levels in blood and most biological materials.
Determination of metals is done by ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry, Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma Mass Spectrometry), a method that enables the simultaneous detection of many metals. Its sensitivity and accuracy are significantly better than conventional atomic absorption, with the ability to measure metals at concentrations up to 1 in 1015 (1 in 1 quadrillion, ppq)!
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. Correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.