Depleted Uranium Shells: Dangerous or not?

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Uther
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Depleted Uranium Shells: Dangerous or not?

Post by Uther » 2003-04-04 05:54pm

Well, obviously they're dangerous if someone shoots them at you. My question is: do DU rounds have any appreciable effects on the long term health of a populace that lives in an area where large numbers of DU shells are located? The US has been using such weapons for a while now, but I've only recently heard people suggesting they might increase the incidence of cancer in exposed populations. Is there any credence to this?

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Joe
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Post by Joe » 2003-04-04 05:59pm

We already have a few threads about this somewhere, if you want to take a look.

http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic. ... ed+uranium

Anyway, this stuff certainly isn't benign; inhalation of the dust is clearly bad for you and probably can cause greater incidence of cancer, as well as other ailments. However, compared to other health factors, like the toxins released from burning coil and oil, it likely won't be THAT huge of an issue.
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-04-04 06:25pm

The dust is dangerous, but no more so then lead or other heavy metals which is what DU is. The radioactivity is irrelevant; DU emits less radioactivity then normal background radiation from the soil.
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Post by Nathan F » 2003-04-04 07:55pm

The World Health Organziation has, at this time, officially stated that the supposed health effects (cancer and birth defects) of DU rounds to be negligible, and no moreso than standard rounds.

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Post by Admiral Valdemar » 2003-04-04 08:27pm

I think "Unobtanium" would be a good material for future rounds.

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Post by Pu-239 » 2003-04-04 10:03pm

Well there might be contamination of farmland and such from large quantities of DU fired from aircraft. And it definitely cannot be good for civilians to hang around tank hulks.

Also, doesn't lead metal have a tendency to deform rather than breaking up into dust after burning, making it less dangerous (less effective too)?

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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-04-04 10:12pm

Pu-239 wrote:Well there might be contamination of farmland and such from large quantities of DU fired from aircraft. And it definitely cannot be good for civilians to hang around tank hulks.

Also, doesn't lead metal have a tendency to deform rather than breaking up into dust after burning, making it less dangerous (less effective too)?
Unlikely, there's just not enough of it to contaminate more then a tiny area. Lead generally doesn't get spread around because military small arms rounds must have full steel jackets.

Comparing the effectiveness of lead cored rounds to DU rounds is pointless; they are used for very different things.
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Post by Pu-239 » 2003-04-04 10:26pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Pu-239 wrote:Well there might be contamination of farmland and such from large quantities of DU fired from aircraft. And it definitely cannot be good for civilians to hang around tank hulks.

Also, doesn't lead metal have a tendency to deform rather than breaking up into dust after burning, making it less dangerous (less effective too)?
Unlikely, there's just not enough of it to contaminate more then a tiny area. Lead generally doesn't get spread around because military small arms rounds must have full steel jackets.

Comparing the effectiveness of lead cored rounds to DU rounds is pointless; they are used for very different things.
Doh!! Forgot that they have not used unjacketed lead for a long time- lead round aren't used to penetrate armor anyways... -soft metals...

Anyways the point is that even though it would effect small areas, a few cases would be bad for PR.

DU is easier to ingest as dust, making it a bit more dangerous- not equally as dangerous as lead, but slightly more. Once the small amount of dust settles to the ground and sticks to it, might not be a problem since it won't be inhaled. though...

http://web.ead.anl.gov/uranium/guide/uc ... /index.cfm

Uranium dioxide is slightly water soluble... probably not a problem since the amount of dust is insignificant. Better ask someone else.

Guess DU is not really much of a problem, except from the PR point of view, and the missed bombs get more press coverage anyways.

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Post by Pu-239 » 2003-04-04 10:28pm

Damn, the metal gets an oxide coating in air... and the metal gets attacked by water. How arid is Iraq?

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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-04-04 10:31pm

Pu-239 wrote:Damn, the metal gets an oxide coating in air... and the metal gets attacked by water. How arid is Iraq?
A large chunk is desert; some is swamp despite fifteen plus years of Saddams draining efforts.
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Post by Pu-239 » 2003-04-04 10:43pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Pu-239 wrote:Damn, the metal gets an oxide coating in air... and the metal gets attacked by water. How arid is Iraq?
A large chunk is desert; some is swamp despite fifteen plus years of Saddams draining efforts.
Don't completely understand this, but...

Looks like DO2's solubility is VERY low. So letting it sit in dirt should not be much of an issue, unless people start eating dirt on the exact spot the round hit, or their animals eat the stuff around it. It's not like DU would cover every square inch, so I have finally come to the conclusion that DU is pretty harmless except for the people getting shot at and their remains.

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Post by Crayz9000 » 2003-04-04 10:54pm

As I recall, the biggest problem with DU rounds during the Bosnian conflict was scavengers who collected metals from the destroyed vehicles, thus coming into contact with the worst concentrations of uranium oxide.
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