heavy water

Leonard Medico lm001d at uhura.cc.rochester.edu
Thu Apr 13 12:10:45 EST 1995


In <3mgsde$kn6 at agate.berkeley.edu> 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:
>>
>> 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.

What if the 'bad' guy for this sci-fi novel grew his own plants in his own
green house.  The hydrogen in the carbohydrates originates from the water
(which is split by the action of photons on the electrons in the Mg ion in
chloroplast as we all in this newsgroup knows.)  Ergo, it is safe to say
plants grown in heavy water will assimilate the deuterium.  Thus the person
who eats these 'heavy' plants will incorperate heavy hydrogen ions into
there proton pumps/gradient processes.  While we are on the subject, what
about water made with Tritium, it is 3 times as heavy as protium and thus
should be an even greater upset.

Just my 2 bits,
Leo



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