Since I’ve gotten a lot of response and views on the latest post on depleted uranium, I have compiled some sources on depleted uranium in general and its health and enviornmental effects. These are basically reference sources which are intended to provide the vital data, as opposed to policy or advocacy links. However, the scientific data is quite compelling in general. The sources come from a vast spectrum ranging from chemical references to recent studies and major scientific bodies.
(In other words, there are no shocking attention-grabbing pictures or political cartoons of George W. Bush and the Grim Reaper here).
The data ranges from very easy to understand primers to a few indepth scientific reviews with very thoroughly cited data.
Data From Major Scientific Organizations:
Fact Sheet On Depleted Uranium (PDF) – This is a very good starting point for basic information on DU from the Health Physics Society, a very credible and well established source.
Expert Answers on Depleted Uranium - Questions on DU are answered by experts in radiation safety, health effects and toxicology.
World Health Organization DU Page – Contains information on depleted uranium and the results of numerous studies and scientific reviews.
WHO Fact Sheet on Depleted Uranium – Basic information and explanations from the WHO.
WHO Guidance on Depleted Uranium Exposure- A comprehensive guide on depleted uranium’s potential health effects.
Depleted Uranium Health Effects – A comprehensive review and policy statement from the Royal Society on all avaliable data.
DOE Uranium Safety Guidelines – A rather long document on the DOE’s recommendations for safe handling, transportation and use of uranium.
SanDia Study on DU (PDF) - Dismissed by some because it is by a defense contractor for the US government, but this is the most comprehensive and wide ranging study to date.
Other information Sources:
The University Of Michigan Health Physics Page
A short course On Depleted Uranium - Depends on your definition on “Short” from the DOD, so some might not trust it.
OSHA Uranium Information – Page on regulations and safety considerations from OSHA.
Review of Depleted Uranium Information - a 1999 review by a Checz physicist on the avaliable scientific data on DU. Very comprehensive.
Depleted Uranium Stories - This yahoo group was emailed to me by another fan of good science who dislikes the current DU paranoia.
Regulations on DU Use - From the Argonne National Laboratory.
Materials Data And Safety Sheets:
(summarize the basics of a material’s potential hazards and properties)
Uranium Metal – This applies to depleted uranium from a supplier
Uranium Oxide ( uranium metal will quickly oxidize when not protected thus remaining DU shrapnel likely would)
Another Uranium Oxide Sheet (from a different source.)
Uranium Compounds - a number of sheets on different uranium-based compounds and chemicals
One final thought: While differing data is welcome here if it is scientifically valid and cited, I would caution those who go looking to avoid any websites which raise banter without giving direct sources and scientific rational behind their claims. The credibility of some sites can be difficult to assess. For example, the WISE Uranium Project appears to contain several documents based on good scientific studies, however the page is actually affiliated with a rather extremist anti-nuclear group and therefore is not a very good information source in general.
In the interest of completeness: I’m not going to insist that depleted uranium is absolutely free of hazard. For one thing it can be quite deadly when it comes at you at about three times the speed of sound. It is a toxic heavy metal and as such can have health effects if ingested in sufficient amounts. There have been studies which have reported a possible link between depleted uranium particles inhaled and lung cancer.
I would caution readers to take these studies in context. The study found that uranium particles could cause damage to lung cells; the kind of damage which increases cancer risk. This however was not a human study in real world conditions. All that it shows is something that was already known: Exposure to large amounts of uranium dust can be a respiratory hazard. This is not to say that it is an unusually potent respiratory hazard, because it is not. There’s no need for everyone in the middle east to wear a dust mask, but it is a good idea to wear one if you are machining uranium. The toxicity when inhaled is comperable to or less than that of many other materials like mercury vapors, cadmium and beryllium.
The hazards of depleted uranium are not non-existent. However, they are small and comparable to other materials.
Best advice for DU safety: Don’t eat it.
This entry was posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2008 at 4:34 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Depleted Cranium, Enviornment, Good Science, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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