Is it safe to drink D2O?

Apart from the fact that it’s prohibitively expensive, is there any good reason why I shouldn’t be able to drink water made with deuterium instead of hydrogen? Will I suffer any adverse short- or long-term physical effects? Will my body absorb and use the D2O like regular water, or will it simply pass through me?

I thought it was naturally-occurring anyway; if this is the case, you have been drinking it.

Do you feel OK?

Yes, D[sub]2[/sub]O is naturally occuring, in very small quantities. It reacts chemically just like H[sub]2[/sub]O, and isn’t a health risk.

Well, yes, but not in significant quantities. I’m sure I’ve also been drinking mercury, arsenic, and strychnine. Obviously I would not want to have the latter three in any concentrations larger than those that occur in nature.

I want to know whether I can drink a full glass of pure D2O. Maybe even on a regular basis.

From the link above:

Checking the isotope chart in the hall…Deuterium is listed as being stable (having a half-life greater than 500,000,000 years). From a risk factor you stand to be negatively affected far more form the other impurities listed in this thread. About the only difference you may notice is that the density is greater (hence the name) in heavy water.

Now if you were to drink T[sub]2[/sub]O it would be a different story.

Confirmed from this site that deuterium is stable. The remaining isotope, tritium, has a half-life of 12.3 years. Water made from it would be quite radioactive, but also because of the relatively short half-life, there probably very little free tritium existing in nature at any one time.

They only mentioned D[sub]2[/sub]O, but not DOH, where only one of the hydrogens is deuterium. Maybe Homer Simpson drank it all at the Springfield power plant. :D:D

Tranquilis wrote:

This is false. The difference in chemical reactivity between isotopes is subtle, but does exist. The largest difference results from kinetic isotope effects. Chemical bonds to [sup]1[/sup]H and [sup]2[/sup]H (i.e. D) have different vibrational properties because D has about double the mass; these differences effect relative rates of reaction between the two types of hydrogen usually by few percent, in a few cases by perhaps 50%.

Mammalian biology can be very sensitive to these sorts of subtle changes. D[sub]2[/sub]O metabilizes as normal water does. (For what it’s worth, the following was taught to me in a graduate chemistry course, but I haven’t read the source literature; take of that what you will) When mice are fed only D[sub]2[/sub]O, they appear healthy and have no obvious adverse symptoms through when all the water in their systems is 20% deuterated. When they are 25% deuterated they become sterile, and at 30% they die. Humans are presumably similar. Some bacteria can survive 100% deuteration.

Drinking a glass of D[sub]2[/sub]O would not be dangerous. Drinking only D[sub]2[/sub]O would be, over the long term.

Oh, and AWB: water exchanges protons (or deuterons) rapidly; mix equal portions of D[sub]2[/sub]O and H[sub]2[/sub]O, and wait a minute and you’ll have about 25% H[sub]2[/sub]O, 25% D[sub]2[/sub]O, and 50% DOH.

I’ve visited labs which worked with tritium, it requires very substantial safety precautions to use it, even in small quantities, not at all like deuterium.

According to a my freshmen chemistry class, D[sub]2[/sub]O can be fatal if it becomes a significant precentage of your body’s water (somewhere around 20%, I believe). The reason is because the difference in mass will affect reaction rates in the cell. Many chemical pathways require precise timing in order to be completed, so changing the rates of reaction can have a negative effect. I don’t know if this has ever been tested in animals, but I think it is likely.

Simulpost! So, uh, yeah, what (Tim) said.

D[sub]2[/sub]O is pretty similar to regular H[sub]2[/sub]O but it’s not entirely harmless. A hydrogen atom with a mass of 2 is slightly larger than and forms slightly stronger bonds than the H[sup]1[/sup] isotope. The stronger chemical bond generally causes a slowing of chemical reactions. I’ve seen isotope effects change the reaction rate by as much a factor of 8 for some enzymatic reactions. The change in size in going from H[sup]1[/sup] to D[sup]2[/sup] will also cause distortion of some molecules.

None of these effects will be good for you, and if you get the concentration of D[sub]2[/sub]O high enough you will likely start having problems along the same lines as these fish embryos:

Ah! I see undergrad chem isn’t as comprehensive as it might be.

I stand corrected.

So, with the human body being, say, 75%-ish H2O (Is that by mass or volume? I’ve never heard…), and 20% of that 75% (or ~15% of the total) able to be D2O (which “weighs” 2 AMUs more than H2O) without significant health risk, could you could easily weigh a noticeable amount more without actually becoming any fatter? There must be some use to such an ability, if it would work out as I think…what say y’all?

Depending on the unit you use, the difference between weight and volume of normal H2O is negligible.

1kg = 1L = 0.1m[sup]2[/sup]

I remember hearing in the 80’s that some physicists were mixing their drinks with heavy water, and that it mitigated the disorientation caused by the blood in your inner-ear being lighter than usual, allowing them to get a good drunk on and not fall on their butts. No idea how reliable this info is-- If I recollect correctly, it’s something I read about in Omni– So I’d take it with a saline solution.

No, it’s not safe – I read up on this several years ago, and the reference works on heavy water tell you that it’s toxic. I can’t recall the books right now.
I understand that they have raised bacteria and other simple organisms in D2O for their entire lives without ill effect. I think they worked their way up to amphibian before finding an organism complex enough to die from the effcts.

Two previous threads on the subject:

Heavy Water poisoning

Heavy Water

caveman, because the effects aren’t obvious in mice in moderate amounts you conclude that it’s safe in humans in those amounts? That seems optimistic.

[nitpick] erislover wrote:

  1. 1kg = 1L is only approximately true at 1 Atm and 280K. (to be truly pedantic, the maximum density of H[sub]2[/sub]O at 1 Atm is .99995 g/cm[sup]3[/sup].)
  2. 1L = either 0.001m[sup]3[/sup] or (0.1m)[sup]3[/sup].
  3. Hi Opal!

If I feed it to my pet spider and get bit, will I be Spiderman?