The problem is, when DU armor piercing projectiles penetrate their targets, they become incendiary spewing radioactive dust
The Toxic Legacy of Depleted Uranium Weapons 11-26-2012, EcoWatch, By Paul E McGinniss “……… how many of us know about the current manufacturing and active use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons? DU (Uranium 238) is a radioactive waste by-product of the uranium enrichment process. It results from making fuel for nuclear reactors and the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.
In a frightening adaptation of the “Cradle to Cradle” philosophy in manufacturing, which seeks to use waste in the manufacturing process to create other “useful” products, militaries around the world have come up with the “brilliant” idea of taking DU and making “conventional” weapons with it. Read more »
Uranium Substitute Is No Longer Needed, but Its Disposal May Pose Security Risk http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/us/uranium-233-disposal-proves-a-problem.html By MATTHEW L. WALD September 23, 2012 WASHINGTON — At the dawn of the civilian nuclear age in the 1950s, one of the pressing questions was how to find enough fuel for reactors and bombs. The government and the private sector seized on a man-made substitute for natural uranium, producing about 3,400 pounds of an exotic and expensive material called uranium 233.
Today, the problem is how to safely get rid of it. Read more »
Gulf War Syndrome and the Army’s Depleted Uranium Training Videos, Motherboard by DerekMead , Nov 12, 2011 Depleted uranium, a bi-product of enriched uranium that was used in American munitions, was the focus of military preparations before the war. We dug up some old Army videos for “Depleted Uranium General Awareness Training” that shows just how under-prepared soldiers may have been to the hazards of this potentially pretty nasty stuff.
In April of 1991, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority described the potential problems of radioactive dust spreading over the battlefields and getting into the food chain and the water. At that time it warned that forty tons of radioactive debris left from DU weapons could cause over five hundred thousand deaths. The amount of radioactive debris left behind in the Gulf War is over three hundred tons.
Nuclear War in the Mideast , Subversify, By karlsie April 22, 2011 ”…..The Hazards of Depleted Uranium Artillery Depleted uranium artillery projectiles are favored by the military as they are shelf sharpening, penetrate deeply into their target and are pyrophoric. When a DU penetrator reaches the interior of an armored vehicle, it catches fire, often igniting ammunition and fuel, killing the crew, and possibly causing the vehicle to explode. When a DU projectile explodes, it leaves behind a dust that is both toxic and radioactive. Read more »
Latest documents advocating the ban of depleted uranium. By Jerry Mazza, Online Journal, 23 July 2010, “….According to the Overview from the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons,Depleted Uranium (DU) is nuclear waste. Uranium naturally occurs as three different isotopes U234, U235 and U238. Isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons but the same number of protons. This means that they behave in the same way chemically, but different isotopes release different amounts and kinds of radiation. Read more »
Health Effects of Depleted Uranium (DU): A review of the Recent Research, 91outcomes.com: by Anthony Hardie, 20 July 2010, The studies examine DU that has been embedded/implanted (such as shrapnel) in the body, ingested/swallowed and absorbed into the body, and inhaled into the upper and/or lower respiratory tracts/lungs. One study examines DU exposure through wounds. None of the studies examines the effect on the skin from contact with DU, DU particulate matter, or DU crystalline residue.Taken together, the studies suggest that there are different health outcomes depending on how the DU comes into contact with the body, with a wide range of effects………
DU Genotoxity. Some substances have genotoxic properties – properties that make them harmful to the genetic information (DNA, RNA, chromosomes, etc.) in living creatures. There are three types of genotoxins: 1) Carcinogens (cancer-causing); 2) Mutagens (cause mutations); and, 3) Teratogens (birth-defect causing).
A Chinese government study using rats fed levels of DU, ranging from none to high, found increased concentrations of uranium in the kidneys and ovaries and significant abnormalities in the sperm in those that had consumed the DU. Because these genotoxic changes to the DNA affected ovaries and sperm, the DNA changes were passed on to offspring, even for rats that had consumed only low doses of DU, with the most severe changes in the sperm found in the offspring of the rats exposed to DU, even at low levels. (Y. Hao, 2009)………..
Effects of Inhaled DU. A new study from the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology in Maine found that DU caused cellular death in the cells lining the bronchial airways of human lungs, and caused damage to the chromosomes after just 48 hours…..
A second study published by the same group found even stronger evidence of the damage caused by DU to human lungs, showing that the cells lining the airways are “transformed by DU and exhibit significant chromosome instability consistent with” the growth of neoplasms — abnormal growth of cells that, if large enough, are known as “tumors.” Neoplasms are of three types: non-malignant, pre-malignant, and malignant. (H. Xie et al, 2010)……….
Particles in the PM2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Scientific studies have linked increases in daily PM2.5 exposure with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits and deaths. Studies also suggest that long term exposure to fine particulate matter may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. People with breathing and heart problems, children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM2.5. (Source: NY Dept. of Health)
Effects of Implanted/Embedded DU. Urine testing of approximately 1,7000 U.S. veterans found three with evidence of DU in their urine; all three had embedded DU fragments. (CD Dorsey et al, 2009)………….
A Fudan University (China) study concluded that kidneys and bone are the primary reservoirs for uranium redistributed from DU fragments embedded in muscle, and “the accumulations in kidney, bone and many other tissues suggest the potential for unanticipated physiological consequences of chronic exposure to DU.” (G. Zhu et al, 2009)………….
Leukemia and DU. A U.S. Department of Defense, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFFRI) study of mice with leukemia induced by chronic internal exposure to DU found that non-genetic factors causing genes to behave (or “express themselves”) differently are implicated in DU-induced leukemia. The study found evidence that a form of abnormal activity, called hypomethylation, in the DNA in the spleen was associated with both the chronic internal DU exposure and the onset of leukemia, a new link between DU and leukemia. (Miller et al, 2009)……….
A U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (USA CHPPM) Capstone study discussed its development of a test that determines the approximate severity of effect on the kidneys following DU exposure with 85 percent accuracy. The study asserted that, “The primary target for uranium toxicity is the kidney.” (Roszell et al, 2009)
Medical Effects of Internal Contamination with Uranium, URANIO: cronaca e documenti, giovedì 20 maggio 2010 Medical,Journal v.40, n.1, Mar99, by Asaf Durakoviæ, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C., USA “…. The association of depleted uranium with human mutagenesis, carcinogenesis, and diseases of the immune system has been postulated in the environmental measurements of radioactivity at the DU testing ranges in the United States. Whereas the surface contamination levels are strictly regulated for the decommissing of the facilities for unrestricted use, with a maximum permissible level of 35 pCi/g, the surface contamination levels found after the testing of DU penetrators routinely exceeded the maximum permissible dose of soil contamination……Radioactivity as a result of the decay progeny of 238U poses a radiation hazard of inhalation. One milligram of DU generates over a billion alpha and beta particles per year, which, together with gamma emitted radionuclides of 238U progeny (234Th, 234Pa), causes internal radiation hazards. The reality of the legacy of DU waste and its use in the recent tactical warfare warrants detailed studies regarding its effect on the biosphere and the human population.
Medical Effects of Internal Contamination with Uranium, URANIO: cronaca e documenti, giovedì 20 maggio 2010 Medical,Journal v.40, n.1, Mar99, by Asaf Durakoviæ, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C., USA,”… Radiation Toxicity of Uranium Natural uranium contains 99.28% of 238U, 0.72% of 235U and 0.006% of 234U. Uranium-238 decays into thorium (234Th), which further decays to protactinium (234Pa), followed by uranium-234. Physical half-lives of 238U is 4.5×109, 235U=7.1×108 and 234U=2.5×105 years. Uranium isotopes and their decay products are alpha, beta, and gamma emitters, with spontaneous fission below the level of criticality. Alpha emitting radon (222Rn), a decay product of 238U, presents a considerable inhalation hazard in uranium mines. Uranium ore (U3O8) is obtained from the mines, concentrated, and processed to americium diuranate, which is fluorinated and, when enriched, may be used for fuel in power reactors and nuclear weapons. The by-product of the enrichment process is depleted uranium. All steps in the mining and processing of uranium isotopes may be associated with radiation hazards and internal contamination.
In the decay process of 238U, its daughter products 234Th and 234Pa reach secular equilibrium with their parent isotope in approximately 6 months, decaying at the same rate as 238U. They emit alpha and beta particles and gamma rays. Gamma radiation interacts with the internal environment of the organism by Compton and photoelectric reactions, which may pass through layers of several hundred cells, producing radiation-induced tissue alterations. The beta particles of protactinium-234 (E=2.29 MeV) have potent ionizing radiation. They can pass through several hundred cells. Alpha particles, although of a short range, present high radiation risk because of their mass, positive charge, and powerful ionization capacity. The alpha particles may present a considerable genetic or carcinogenic risk when incorporated in the vicinity of non-differentiated, highly radiosensitive cells, such as the pluripotent stem cell. All three modes of decay present a biological risk in internal contamination, mainly when inhaled or entering the body through damaged skin or missile fragment wounds….
Radiation interactions of uranium decay products interact with the internal environment of the organism by direct ionization as charged particles and by indirect interaction as electromagnetic radiation, with a transfer of energy in the tissue by both ionization and excitation, as well as the formation of free radicals……….Whereas a single radiation exposure may result in a repair mechanism in 97% of DNA, the constant exposure by the internally deposited alpha emitters may result in chromosome aberrations, resulting in mutations or malignant alterations.
Radiation-induced alterations by uranium compounds are well documented. Lung cancer in uranium miners has been linked with internal contamination with uranium decay products (120). Animal data on the radiotoxicology of uranium compounds has been used to simulate environmental exposure of the general human population. Beagle dog was used as an appropriate model from which extrapolation with reference to uranium in the internal organs of humans can be studied (121). Synergistic effects of inhaled uranium and cigarette smoking has been reported (122)…….
Cancer susceptibility of uranium-exposed human population, assessed by genetic polymorphism and host-reactivation assays in a mutator phenotype, indicates that uranium may be one of the mutagens causing abnormal DNA repair (127). These studies emphasize the need for further epidemiological studies to better understand the radiation risks of cancer incidence in the nuclear industry, specifically in uranium mining (128)…….
uranium is still an inadequately understood chemical and radiological hazard to the biosphere and human organism, with increasing relevance to the human population in its less strictly controlled use in modern industry and, recently, in modern warfare.
Medical Effects of Internal Contamination with Uranium, URANIO: cronaca e documenti, giovedì 20 maggio 2010 Medical,Journal v.40, n.1, Mar99, by Asaf Durakoviæ, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C., USA “…..Depleted Uranium Depleted uranium is natural uranium in which 235U isotopic content is reduced from 0.7% to 0.2%. The enrichment process which allows the use of uranium in power reactors and nuclear weapons results in a by-product, partially depleted 235U to about one third of its original content in natural uranium……..The range of uranium content of the most ores is between 0.1-1.0% of U3O8. However, much higher grades are frequently found, presenting higher radiation hazards to miners from beta radiation from the ore and inhalation of uranium dust suspended in the air of the mining environment. Uranium toxic effects after inhalation largely depend on the size of respirable particles. It is the portion of inhaled dust deposited in the non-ciliated portion of the lung. Particles of 10 mm in size are not respirable, while particles of 2 mm have almost complete access in the alveolar compartment. Commonly encountered aerosols associated with uranium oxide are much larger in AED than the sand in the Arabian desert, and over 80% are deposited in the alveolar portion of the lungs, 10% in the thoracic lymph nodes, whereas the rest is deposited in the upper respiratory tree. This illustrates the significance of the respiratory port of entry in the Gulf War. Studies of the Persian Gulf Syndrome and Al-Eskan disease points to the small size (<1 mm) and uniformity of fine dust particles in the Arabian desert as a contributing factor in the Desert Storm Illness.
Radiation estimates from uranium mines in Japan, Australia, France, Spain, and Mexico are in a range of 0.02 to 4.0 mrem per hour, although in the areas of rich deposits gamma radiation may reach 20 mrem/hr (94). The primary radiation risks to the lung tissue in uranium mines are from Radon-222 and its daughters 218Po, 214Pb, and 214Po (95). Depleted uranium, a by-product of the enrichment of natural uranium, presents an internal hazard by its parenteral entry in extracellular fluid and ultimately by its incorporation in the uranium target organs, i.e., the skeletal tissue for the uranyl salts (VI) and the kidney for uranous compounds (IV). While less soluble compounds of uranium primarily cause long-term deposition risk in the bone, soluble uranium compounds are predominantly nephrotoxic in the proximal convoluted tubules (96) (Table 1)…….
Alpha radiation from DU is not a significant external hazard because of its short range and low specific radioactivity of 238U. However, beta radiation is the predominant component of the DU penetrator,……The primary DU hazard is from internal contamination.
The impact of a depleted uranium penetrator exposes the attending personnel to a radiation hazard which exceeds the maximum permissible dose, with an average aerosol concentration after impact of a 120 mm round exceeding 47×10-8 Ci/mL (1 Ci=3.7×104 Bq) two minutes after firing (112). Because of radiation hazards, the NRC regulatory limits determine the maximum permissible air concentration of 7×10-11 Ci/mL for soluble DU and 1×10-10 Ci/mL for insoluble DU in order not to exceed 15 rem in the lungs and kidneys during a working life of 50 years (101)…..
All persons involved in the military use of DU should be radiologically monitored with TLD dosimeters for the skin and total body exposure, while bioassay (urine) and pulmonary monitoring should be routinely performed. All personnel dealing with DU should receive annual radiation safety training on DU hazards. Environmental samples of water and soil, swipe, and air analysis for alpha and beta radiation and waste disposal should be analyzed by health physicists, with accurate documentation. These measures should be observed by both the civilian and military when using depleted uranium.
Medical Effects of Internal Contamination with Uranium, URANIO: cronaca e documenti, giovedì 20 maggio 2010 Medical,Journal v.40, n.1, Mar99, by Asaf Durakoviæ, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C., USA “…..Inhalation The inhalation pathway of internal contamination with depleted uranium is the most important route of entry to the extracellular fluid via the bronchoalveolar tree. Inhaled DU particles are absorbed in the upper bronchial tree, and on the alveolar surface. If soluble, they gain access into systemic circulation.
Bronchoalveolar deposition of radioactive particles has been actively studied for decades (104). The radiation hazard of inhaled radioactive particles was studied with different actinides (105) and the general model of their metabolic behavior in the respiratory system was introduced in 1955 by the International Commission of Radiation Protection (ICRP), with recommendations of the parameters for studies of respiratory contamination pathways (106). The experimental model was later revised, with an emphasis on uranium, plutonium, and their fission products (107). According to this model, about 25% of the radioactive particles are deposited in the bronchial tree, 25% are immediately exhaled, whereas 50% are translocated to the nasopharynx and swallowed, with subsequent handling by the mechanisms of gastrointestinal absorption. The intestinal absorption of DU is negligible, placing the respiratory pathway in the category of major radiotoxicological hazard……..Soluble components of uranium absorbed from the pulmonary tree are deposited in the skeleton within a few weeks, with a biological half-life in the lungs of 120 days. A considerably longer pulmonary retention of 1,470 days is expected in the case of inhalation of uranium oxides…….Half of the airborne DU particles sampled during the testing of 105 mm DU projectiles were in the respirable range. They reached the non-ciliated portion of the bronchial tree (110). In other studies, 70% of airborne DU particles upon impact were less than 7 mm in size, thus considered
respirable. An aerodynamic equivalent diameter (AED) of 10 m is considered non-respirable, 5 m being 25%, 3.5 m 50%, 2.5 m 75%, and 2.0 m 100% respirable (110). Larger particles of >5 m and very small particles of <0.2 m are not significant as inhalational hazards.
Those particles in the respirable range may be retained in the lung, producing local radiation injury or deposited into the target organs after absorption in the blood stream. Retention is determined by the particle concentration, density, size, shape, and breathing pattern of the exposed person. Soluble compounds of DU have quick access to the blood stream and primarily exert a toxic effect on the kidney as a chemical rather than a radiological toxic agent. Insoluble compounds remain in the lungs, with a biological half-life of 120 days and present a radiation hazard by irradiating alveolar tissue. One study reported that 60% of insoluble uranium was retained in the lung tissue for 500 days (111). Uranium oxide is considered relatively insoluble, whereas uranium dioxide is moderately soluble.
Although the bronchoalveolar pathway is the single most important point of entry of uranium in the internal environment of the human organism, there has been very few controlled exposures of man to uranium compounds by inhalation. The size of the dust particles in uranium mining or other dust concentration in the uranium industry were considered too large to reach the micro-bronchiolar and alveolar compartment of the human lung. It was assumed that these particles would be deposited in the nasopharyngal region, where they could be swallowed and eliminated by the gastrointestinal tract (85). In uranium plants, sampling of the particle size indicated a probability of up to 99% of the dust being concentrated in the upper respiratory tract. An experiment, named “a miniature cyclone”, simulated the distribution of uranium dust particles between the upper and lower respiratory pathways………Since over 85% of UO3 in the micro-bronchial and alveolar tree is in the form of UO3, which is excreted by the kidney, it has been postulated that uranium is mobilized from the lungs into systemic circulation, over 60% ending in the bone and kidney and 40% excreted in urine (86). The industrial exposure to uranium dust involves particles that vary in size and uniformity……
Radiation and chemical toxicity in the respiratory (contamination) pathway involving radiation toxicity has been known for several decades; the respiratory pathway involving chemical toxicity has been known for two centuries. Recent evidence of a high incidence of systemic sclerosis in the lungs of German uranium miners further confirms the significance of the respiratory pathway of contamination (88). The most recent reports confirm the association between the uranium mining environment and squamous cell carcinoma (89). This factor necessitates reconsideration of the ratio between genetic and environmental cancer.
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