heavy water

Ken Frauwirth BioKen frauwirt at notmendel.Berkeley.EDU
Wed Apr 12 10:42:38 EST 1995

In article <hooftznfgyo6wtt66 at nu.EMBL-Heidelberg.DE>,
Rob Hooft <hooft at EMBL-Heidelberg.DE> wrote:
>>>>>> Phillip Bigelow writes:
> Phillip> 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.

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.

Now all we need to do is find the immunology angle ;)

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

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