Mudcat Café message #1756332 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #92091   Message #1756332
Posted By: NH Dave
09-Jun-06 - 07:09 PM
Thread Name: Depleted Uranium ..if the expolsive don't...
Subject: RE: Depleted Uranium ..if the expolsive don'
Sounds as if there are some scream and wail, Chicken Little, scare tactics going on here.

Depleted uranium, dU, [my abreviation] is dangerous like any Heavy Metal, think uranium, lead, tungsten, etc., but is isn't very radioactive - that's what the depleted means, they've taken out the radioactive uranium leaving the non radioactive isotopes. I would guess that the granite native to the northeast of the US is more radioactive - it outgasses Radon - than dU, and we build with granite all the time.

Its main use in munitions is to give them sufficient mass, to punch through armor and protective cover, like the skin of a building, by its kenetic energy from the propellant charge. As long as one doesn't breathe the dU dust, or get fragments under the skin, it is relatively safe to handle or fire; especially as the unfired munitions contain the dU within a thin metallic case.

During previous conflicts, lead was commonly used for rifle and musket balls, and posed the same dangers to the population of that time as dU does today. The main reasons why we stopped using lead as a bullet are the bans on all ammunition that expands when it hits a body, as opposed to punching through and through holes. These bans are contained in the Geneva Conventions of Land Warfare, which prohibit using such expanding or Dum Dum bullets against troops. Since the use of dU is mostly against hardened targets like armor and buildings, it isn't banned for its soft or expansive properties, and is perfectly legal to use in this manner. If several troops happen to get between one tank and its target, then that is tragic for the people involved, but would yield the same result as if the one tank was firing steel sabot ammo - a fairly neat hole through and through.

Using solder to mend metali items or solder circuit boards poses more hazard, by exposing the body to lead fumes, than being around dU, a danger that has only recently been addressed, by providing forced ventilation and eye protection while using solder to join items. In the past electronic assemblers and repair people used solder on a daily basis with no thought of possible danger, because we hadn't recognised that there was one. By and large the worst injuries we suffered were caused by touching a soldering iron or joint before it had completely cooled.