Depleted Uranium

  1. jcsd
  2. chroot

    chroot 10,426
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Depleted uranium is less radioactive than common dirt. The article is nothing more than fear-mongering crap. C'mon, it quotes an undergraduate student's research paper written for a lower-division geology class as if it's a credible primary source. It also makes very bold statements, such as "ludicrously high leukemia rates" in connection with DU, that have absolutely no supporting evidence.

    Sure, DU is a heavy metal, and, like lead, I don't prefer that it wind up in groundwater, but DU is much, much, MUCH less a threat than the media would like you to believe.

    - Warren
     
  3. You saying that DU is like a lead then propably DU is quite dangerous esspecially to kids.
     
  4. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Oh goodie, more DU fearmongering. I love DU fearmongering. Its very entertaining.
    Uh, yeah, but we aren't going to be making pipes or silverware out of it...
     
  5. loseyourname

    loseyourname 3,632
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    I thought depleted uranium is lead. Isn't that what it degrades to?
     
  6. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    Undergrad research paper for lower-division classes? You mean like a HOMEWORK assignment????
     
  7. loseyourname

    loseyourname 3,632
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    You should take a look at it. The girl put together a very long paper. What I wonder is how a newspaper journalist managed to even find some Santa Clara University student's engineering homework.
     
  8. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    Maybe the student sent the journalist the homework paper and... i dunno... ignorance begot ignorance?
     
  9. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Lead is the eventual product of radioactive decay. Depleted uranium is still uranium (U-238?). It has an extremely long half life, which means it is only slightly radioactive and therefore not a radiological threat.
     
  10. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    What did the article mean when it said "Depleted Uranium only becomes more radioactive as time passes"
     
  11. mrjeffy321

    mrjeffy321 882
    Science Advisor

    "and increases in radioactivity as it decays"

    The author was probably intending to say that as it decays it gives off radiation, the longer the time has passes, the more radiation it has given off.
     
  12. chroot

    chroot 10,426
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    The immediate products of U-238 decay are, in fact, more radioactive than U-238 itself, but they are short-lived.

    - Warren
     
  13. There has been a study done on the effects of DU ammunition. The UNEP report concluded in 2001 and found that the hazards are minimal. The most significant hazard seems to be that someone will pick up a round and keep it in close proximity of their person for an extended period of time. Having spent some time on a naval carrier DU rounds were used for the 'seawhiz' automated defense system, and we were always warned not to touch the orange traingular sabots. Someone in Kosovo might not know if a round is radioactive or not. That is the only significant radioactive risk stated in the report.

    There are many other sites that disagree and some claim that the tables in the UNEP report are being interpreted incorrectly, and the radioactive risks are being downplayed. Cases of cancer and leukemia are reported in soldiers and citizens that were in areas where DU rounds were used.

    Here is more than you will probably want to read about DU ammunition.
    http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Features/DU/finalreport.pdf

    edit- And here is a site that attempts to debunk the UNEP report
    http://www.llrc.org/du/subtopic/uneprept.htm
    and the BBC news story for any interested.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/europe/2001/depleted_uranium/default.stm
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2005
  14. Ha ha ha ! very funny. :wink:
    When US military was spraying thousands of hectares of Vietnam with Agent Orange which contained Dioxines they also reasured soldies and later civilian population that there is absolutelly no health side effects( birth deformations,miscariages and so on)
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2005
  15. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    Well ill be the first to say bring up facts showing DU is a serious health hazard and then you can be taken seriously instead of just going "ha, the US is always wrong because they lie so they must be wrong about this too"
     
  16. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    Well ill save all the formalities and such and get to where id probably end up going with "Why would you believe hte Army if the people who cry about DU say the government is a bunch of liars and they shouldnt be trusted".
     
  17. quoting from the link:

    the U.S. military is utilizing weapons to launch these nuclear DU projectiles in Iraq.

    All things have atomic nuclei. That doesn't mean that all things tossed are nuclear projectiles. The article was written in order to confuse people, not inform them.
     
  18. Here's the decay chain for 238U:

    238U -> 234Th -> 234Pa -> 234U -> 230Th -> 226Ra -> 222Rn -> 218Po -> 214Pb -> 214Bi -> 214Po -> 210Pb -> 210Bi -> 206Tl -> 206Pb (stable)

    The 214Po is far, far more radioactive than the 238U with a half-life of a couple milliseconds; however, since an atom of 238U has to decay in order to produce an atom of 214Po, it's radioactivity is limited. 238U has a half-life of 4.5 Billion years. Since T1/2 of 238U is much, much greater than T1/2 of any of it's decay products, the amount of any daughter nuclide should be in equillibrium. In short, DU does *not* get more radioactive over time. I just wanted to make that point a little bit clearer.

    The interesting thing about the DU 'debate' is that most of the people who have done scientific studies on the DU will say 'it's not particularly dangerous, but there are so many factors involved, we can't be 100% sure' while the anti-DU activists always seem to have absolute certainty about their data.
     
  19. So what's the pattern here? One DU thread gets swept away along with the facts located therein only to be replaced by another "run and hide DU is com'n" thread. Argh!!! The last DU thread needs to be restored and stickied for all of the fearmongers to read through. Their 'facts' have been debunked before---I like the new tactic of using college papers as proof though---to exhaustion.

    Anywho, I have two words for DU scardie-cats: Self shielding.
     
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