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Re: [Way off topic] depleted uranium

On 29 Dec, dorn hetzel wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 29, 2004 at 09:48:56AM -0800, bandito wrote:
>> i think they'd be used more as an environmental contaminant than
>> something intended to actually cause death... setting off a big one in a
>> city wouldnt kill THAT many people, but it'd keep them out of the
>> contaminated area until the radioactive material was cleaned up (or a
>> few millions years passes, whichever comes first).
>> in that respect, i think the result is a bit similar
> DU as a contaminant isn't really much more or less problematic than
> say lead or mercury.  Well, in some respects it's easier to clean up
> because it's very easy to separate from the environment because of
> it's radically heavier weight.
> DU's unique property that gets it used in so many weapons systems
> is its rather amazing density, pretty much the best transmitter of
> energy in the kinetic form that there ever was.  Not saying that
> justifies it's use, just that it explains it...
> -Dorn

     Not exactly.  In addition to its high density (~3 times that of
lead), uranium is autopyrophorric.  What that means is that when the
shell hits a hard object, it ignites and burns.  Good for killing people
in tanks, but not for the environment.  When a DU shell burns, the
uranium oxides formed rapidly undergo gas to particle conversion.  About
65 % of the particles formed are less than 5 microns in diameter.
Particles in this size range can be transported for thousands of
kilometers, and are respirable, depositing in the lung tissue.  In
addition, they can be resuspended from the ground by wind.  The extent
to which this occurs depends on the soil type, and is greatest in dry,
sandy soils, which unfortunately are the places where most DU has been


|   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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