A new formulation containing calixarene molecules as an emergency treatment of uranium skin contamination
Health Physics September 2010, Volume 99, Number 3 (430-434)
Cutaneous contamination represents the second highest contamination pathway in the nuclear industry. Despite that the entry of actinides such as uranium into the body through intact or wounded skin can induce a high internal exposure, no specific emergency treatment for cutaneous contamination exists. In the present work, an innovative formulation dedicated to uranium skin decontamination was developed. The galenic form consists in an oil-in-water nanoemulsion, which contains a tricarboxylic calixarene known for its high uranium affinity and selectivity. The physicochemical characterization of this topical form revealed that calixarene molecules are located at the surface of the dispersed oil droplets of the nanoemulsion, being thus potentially available for uranium chelation. It was demonstrated in preliminary in vitro experiments by using an adapted ultrafiltration method that the calixarene nanoemulsion was able to extract and retain more than 80% of uranium from an aqueous uranyl nitrate contamination solution. First ex vivo experiments carried out in Franz diffusion cells on pig ear skin explants during 24 h showed that the immediate application of the calixarene nanoemulsion on a skin contaminated by a uranyl nitrate solution allowed a uranium transcutaneous diffusion decrease of about 98% through intact and excoriated skins. The calixarene nanoemulsion developed in this study thus seems to be an efficient emergency system for uranium skin decontamination.