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Re: [Way off topic] depleted uranium

On 29 Dec, David Raleigh Arnold wrote:
> On Tuesday 28 December 2004 08:28 pm, Sam Watkins wrote:
>> On Mon, Dec 27, 2004 at 02:46:33PM -0800, Steve Lamb wrote:
>> > >The worst "terrorist" is America, with your depleted uranium
>> > >"dirty-bombs" which you throw around at every opportunity,
> A dirty bomb is a nuclear device designed to kill by radiation
> instead of blast.  Depleted uranium has no dangerous radiation.
> That's why it's depleted.  Instead, it is extremely toxic.
> People get sick on account of good ol' chemical poisoning, not
> radiation.

     Wrong.  Natural uranium is >99% U238, with trace amounts of U235
and U235.  The latter two species have much higher specific activities,
which is why they are useful for reactors/bombs.  Depleted uranium is 
what's left over after the U235 and U234 have been recovered; it is
mostly U238.  It has 50 - 60% of the alpha activity of natural uranium.
In addition, depleted uranium produced in the US has been shown to
contain trace levels of more dangerous gamma emitters.  If you pick up
a shell as a souvenir and place it on your desk, the alpha activity
alone is enough to produce skin lesions after 30 - 80 hours of exposure.

     Depleted uranium is hazardous both as a toxic metal (about as toxic
as lead) and as a radionuclide.  Recent research shows that these two
effects probably act synergistically, worsening the effects.  It has not
been proven that DU is the (or one of) the causes of Gulf War Syndrome,
but it is a likely suspect.


|   Christopher Judd, Ph. D.                                           |
|   Research Scientist III                                             |
|   NYS Dept. of Health                           judd@wadsworth.org   | 
|   Wadsworth Center - ESP                                             |
|   P. O. Box 509                                    518 486-7829      |
|   Albany, NY 12201-0509                                              |

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