Medical management of a potentially toxic accidental trialkylamine ingestion during spaceflight

Rebecca Blue, Joseph C. Hudson, Michael F. Rieders, John T. James, Philip C. Stepaniak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: To reduce excessive iodine consumption by astronauts, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has developed various methods of removing residual iodine after iodine-based water purification aboard spacecraft. The Low Iodine Residual System (LIRS) was developed as an iodine removal system for use aboard the space shuttle. This is a case report of an accidental, potentially toxic ingestion by astronauts aboard a space shuttle mission following exposure to contaminated water from LIRS filtration and the medical response operations that followed. Case Report: Astronauts ingested significant levels of trialkylamines from water that had passed through gammairradiated, de-iodination resin in the LIRS hardware. Medical response operations included crew evaluations, consultations with toxicologists and systems experts, hardware testing, contaminant evaluation, and close crewmember follow-up. Discussion: Despite the significant ingestion there were no adverse clinical symptoms in any of the exposed astronauts; however, the case highlights a simple pitfall in the classification of hardware that ultimately lead to a potentially harmful toxic ingestion among the crewmembers, and the real-time response of medical personnel to ensure crew safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1100-1104
Number of pages5
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 24 2013


  • Iodine
  • Spaceflight
  • Toxicity
  • Water filtration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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