heavy water

Phillip Bigelow n8010095 at henson.cc.wwu.edu
Thu Apr 13 12:17:42 EST 1995

frauwirt at notmendel.Berkeley.EDU (Ken Frauwirth (BioKen)) writes:

>In article <hooftznfgyo6wtt66 at nu.EMBL-Heidelberg.DE>,
>Rob Hooft <hooft at EMBL-Heidelberg.DE> wrote:
>>>>>>> Phillip Bigelow writes:
>> Trumborm at dc37a.nci.nih.gov (Mark W. Trumbore) writes:
>> Mark> The formual for heavy water is D2O (D = deuterium).  You have to
>> Mark> consume a huge amount of heavy water for it to be toxic.
>> Phillip>   What would be the symptoms?  Also, would consuming
>> Phillip> air/water/food that contains pure O18 (heavy oxygen) also be
>> Phillip> pathologic?
>>The only difference between H2O and D2O is the fact that the D atoms are
>>2 times as heavy as the H atoms, and thus a number of processes involving
>>those (essential to the energy systems in the body) would run 1.4 times
>>slower (square root of two, "kinetic isotope effect"). I would think this
>>will lead to imbalance quite soon, but it could be that Mark is correct.
>>               Rob Hooft 

>Since the vast majority of the water in the body is functions mainly as a
>solvent, there would be little effect of heavy water on the body.  In order
>to see any imbalance, most of the normal water would have to be replaced 
>with heavy water, and this would require a huge amount to be ingested. 
>Also, most processes involving hydrogen (electron transfer, etc.) use
>hydrogen removed from food metabolites, rather than from water, and these
>would still be normal "light" hydrogen.

>Ken Frauwirth (MiSTie #33025)       _           _
>frauwirt at mendel.berkeley.edu       |_) *    |/ (_ |\ |
>Dept. of Molec. & Cell Bio.        |_) | () |\ (_ | \|  
>Univ. of Cal., Berkeley      "Yes, we have second bananas" - Torgo the White

    Yes, but water is involved in just about every biological/systemic
process in living organisms.  Would D2O have different hydrogen-bonding
properties?  If so, D2O's solvent properties would be effected as well.  If
all water in the body were replaced with heavy water, all of the chemical
energy properties of D2O would run slower.  Would metabolism slow down?
Would brain activity (thought processes) slow down?  If life processes
slowed down, could organisms live longer? (regardless if the quality of life
is much worse).
     / "In evolution, sometimes you're a fly. \ 
     /  Other times, you're the windshield."  \ 
                       Louis Psihoyos 

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