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It is indeed less toxic than the most toxic substance ever discovered or invented.  

Now that we have that out of the way:  

DU is another of those dark medical secrets--research is routinely suppressed.  

U238 is radioactive--not safe at all to ingest despite its long half-life.  If you don't ingest it, fine, but the point is that it spontaneously burns in air (if either heated or pulverized, and both happen when a DU round hits its target) to create a fine powder that is readily dispersed by wind or insinuated into food and water.  And, by the way, DU includes some U235 as well as U238.  

Uranium is a very active chemical poison.  It is not clear which effects are due to radioactivity and which are due to chemical effects.  We can be confident that it is much, much worse than lead.

In addition to a host of exotic maladies, DU causes cancers and birth defects.  The latter are far and away the more important.  DU is active essentially forever--the damage continues centuries after the war is over and perhaps even forgotten.  You don't use DU in territory you expect to inhabit afterward.  So far, the US doesn't, using DU only in lands where temporary resource extraction is the goal of the military action.  

DU does have history, not just theory.  It is the prime suspect in Gulf War Syndrome and in the spectacular increase in birth defects that have turned up in Fallujah Iraq following the two massive assaults there in the first year and a half of the Iraq War.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no scientific proof for these claims. Rather, the scientific consensus is that there is proof depleted uranium does none of these things. But I suppose that's because there a worldwide conspiracy suppressing the research...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 03:11:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you prove or evidence your assertion that Starvid:
the scientific consensus is that there is proof depleted uranium does none of these things

Scientists tend to be very cautious about definitive statements that there is proof that something does or does not cause something else.  They are far more likely to say there is no evidence, or insufficient evidence, or there hasn't been enough research done to prove etc.

It's not unreasonable to suspect that the arms industry has no great interest in sponsoring or publishing research which shows statistical correlations between radiation linked diseases and the use of DU weapons. Also those populations on the receiving end of DU weapons don't tend to be in a position to fund large scale research.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 03:26:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quackwatch has a summary of the research, where the authors conclude that the most parsimonious explanation for Gulf War Syndrome is post-traumatic stress disorder (inasmuch as GWS actually exists - for a number of the claimed symptoms, deployment to Iraq was not a measurable risk factor). Depleted uranium exposure was specifically tested as a possible risk factor, and no relationship was found.

Not being familiar with the relevant primary literature, I cannot evaluate the claim in detail, but Quackwatch is usually reliable on matters where I can evaluate their statements.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 03:43:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However the greater risk from DU would be for resident populations exposed for many years rather than troops on rotating deployments and housed remote from the impact zones?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 04:52:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, let's try to put some ballpark figures on this risk. There's been on the order of a thousand air strikes made during this conflict. An air strike involves dropping on the order of ten tons of powder on somebody. Let's say they've been dropping powder on Tripoli and at the front, in roughly equal measure. That would mean five thousand tons of powder dropped on Tripoli.

How much of that is depleted uranium is anybody's guess, but to get a ballpark figure, let's say between 1 and 10 %. Call it fifty to five hundred tons. Let's say that between one and ten percent burns or otherwise enters the environment before cleanup. So between 0.5 and fifty tons. Tripoli has a ground area of 400 km. Let's say that all the uranium oxide gets concentrated in the lowest 100 m of atmosphere. That gives you 40 cubic km of air, or between 10 microgram and 1 milligram per cubic meter.

That's in the same ballpark as particulate matter pollution. And our assumptions have been fairly pessimistic, so you can probably shave off another order of magnitude if you go through them with a fine-toothed comb. On the other hand, a similar concentration of uranium pollution may well be a greater problem than particulate pollution, so conservative estimates are in order.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 03:18:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with what JakeS said.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:25:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U238 is radioactive--not safe at all to ingest despite its long half-life.

If you ingest enough U238 to raise your background dose by a tenth of a percent, then you have rather bigger and more immediate problems than radiation poisoning.

In addition to a host of exotic maladies,

For which there is little in the way of evidence that uranium exposure is a risk factor. In fact, for several of the more - ah - exotic maladies occasionally attributed to uranium exposure, there is no evidence that the disease exists.

DU is active essentially forever

But this is irrelevant, because it does not remain in the biological environment forever. Heavy metals don't work that way - if they did, we'd still be seeing low-level lead poisoning from pre-1980 lead pollution.

So far, the US doesn't, using DU only in lands where temporary resource extraction is the goal of the military action.

Since the US has only fought colonial wars since it began deploying DU rounds, this is not proof of any policy other than that of fighting colonial wars.

It is the prime suspect in Gulf War Syndrome

Well, no. GWS is almost certainly PTSD. PTSD is a real and serious condition, but it is not a reaction to chemical exposures.

Uranium exposure is linked to cancer and birth defects, but you are not doing your case any favours by inflating the threat with spurious health risks. Birth defects are quite serious enough.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 04:09:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fukushima Trouble Headlines to Chris Busby, where he gives a nice summary.  

UO2++ binds to DNA, where it absorbs ambient radiation with several orders of magnitude higher cross-section than other substances, and scatters the energy back out into the tissues to cause genetic damage.  

Uranium is implicated in cancer, including leukemia, birth defects, and inflammation of virtually any organ in which it becomes embedded.  I called these syndromes exotic because they are new, relatively unstudied, and assuredly not yet completely catalogued.  

You are certainly confused about Gulf War Syndrome, which was noted for mysterious and alarming but very physical effects, which, further, were slightly transmissible.  It is thus unlike Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is characterized by more psychological and behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, depression, mood swings, insomnia, nightmares, and flashbacks.  

How long uranium persists in the environment is certainly unknown.  No theory can be trusted on this.  But if you could get your hands on the old Soviet data from the Chelyabinsk disaster, you could probably get the beginnings of a picture.  

***

Yeah, the US may not actually have a policy about where to use this stuff.  Given typical American hyper short-range thinking, it may well be that the military expects to use it everywhere.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:00:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are certainly confused about Gulf War Syndrome, which was noted for mysterious and alarming but very physical effects,

Which, however, were not actually present in any greater frequency in the population of gulf war veterans than in the general population.

What're you going to try to sell next? A vaccine-autism connection?

How long uranium persists in the environment is certainly unknown.  No theory can be trusted on this.

Because clearly uranium behaves completely differently from all other subgroup metals with similar electron structure. Give me a break. It's not like we have no experience with heavy metal pollution on which to base predictions.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand the presentation referenced by by Gaianne below correctly, Uranium is uniquely genotoxic because of the manner it is absorbed by the body and the degree to which it absorbs external radiation - proportionate to the fourth power of its atomic number - and concentrates it in very vulnerable parts of the body.

This has nothing to do with marginal increases in background radiation due to Uranium dust dispersal and everything to do with how even tiny concentrations of DU absorbed by the body amplify the absorption of external gamma radiation out of all proportion to its own (relatively low) level of radioactivity.

It seems to me this is a very specialised field of research and which should be careful about overgeneralising from related fields. According to the Video, the chief radiation advisor to the WHO was sacked for raising the issue, and so it may not be an entirely politics free area of research either.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 09:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. But what I'm not seeing there is anything to suggest that uranium is many times more problematic than lead, which we have some experience with to use as a basis for modelling.

Now, it may indeed be that we have been underestimating the toxicity of particulate lead. But as long as uranium is roughly comparable to lead (give or take an order of magnitude), historical data on the health effects and lifetime of lead pollution should still give estimates for uranium that are at least in the right ballpark. So the wild claims that uranium pollution makes an area uninhabitable for millennia need to be taken with a teaspoonful of salt.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 02:23:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a very specific claim which is that the European ECRR recommended multiplying radiation doses by 1000 in the case of Uranium in the body, and Chris Busby does not contest that number. He does say that, were that factor applied to the specific AREVA's environmental impact study he's discussing, it would make the project exceed legal safety limits... One would have to read the report to see if this is going from 90% of the legal limit to 900 times, or from 0.2% to 2 times the legal limit.

In any case, one interesting feature of lead poisoning is that

No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered--that is, there is no known amount of lead that is too small to cause the body harm.
Specifically,
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization state that a blood lead level of 10 μg/dL or above is a cause for concern; however, lead may impair development and have harmful health effects even at lower levels, and there is no known safe exposure level.

...

The levels found today in most people are orders of magnitude greater than those of pre-industrial society. Due to reductions of lead in products and the workplace, acute lead poisoning is rare in most countries today; however, low level lead exposure is still common. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that subclinical lead exposure became understood to be a problem. During the end of the 20th century, the blood lead levels deemed acceptable steadily declined. Blood lead levels once considered safe are now considered hazardous, with no known safe threshold.



So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:02:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to model it?  Scandium?  One of the lanthanoids?  Uranium is in the Actinoid series, and how much does that tell you?  All are similar, but different.  Model away!  

I think there is yet no reliable model for this.  Experience would be worth more.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:38:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gaianne:
Follow the link at (none / 1) Fukushima Trouble Headlines to Chris Busby, where he gives a nice summary.  

This one?



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 08:30:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the information on health effects that Busby talks about has appeared elsewhere, but his summary is very good.  The use of gold in radiation treatment for cancer I had already encountered, but not the method of its action, nor the implications for uranium poisoning.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 04:53:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree this is very interesting. So, is enhancement of ambient radiation a generic factor in heavy metal poisoning?

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:47:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's an appealing hypothesis for low-dose, chronic exposure. High-dose acute exposure, not so much, since you can to a considerable extent reverse the damage by reducing the heavy metal concentration with chelating agents. If the acute damage was radiological, this removing the metal should not reverse the symptoms.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:05:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
If the acute damage was radiological, this removing the metal should not reverse the symptoms.
So empirical studies about the effects of chelation therapy on acute metal poisoning should shed light on this.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 04:50:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
seems to be implied.  By the fourth power rule, lead should be 3/5 as active as uranium.  

But: he makes a big point of how UO2++ likes to bind to DNA.  Other elements might not do that, and that would matter.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:58:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, if you like, Uranium should be 60% more poisonous than Lead as a heavy metal. Chris Busby does stress repeatedly that Uranium's radioactivity is minute (having a half-life of the order of the Earth's age).

Now, lead bullets have been phased out from civilian (hunting) use because of their toxicity and because bullets fragment and it is difficult to ensure that all of it is removed from hunted animals so it doesn't go into the food chain.

Now, this is interesting: Bullet materials

  • Armor piercing: Jacketed designs where the core material is a very hard, high-density metal such as tungsten, tungsten carbide, depleted uranium, or steel. A pointed tip is often used, but a flat tip on the penetrator portion is generally more effective.[3]
  • Non toxic shot: Steel, bismuth, tungsten, and other exotic bullet alloys prevent release of toxic lead into the environment. Regulations in several countries mandate the use of non-toxic projectiles especially when hunting waterfowl. It has been found that birds swallow small lead shot for their gizzards to grind food (as they would swallow pebbles of similar size), and the effects of lead poisoning by constant grinding of lead pellets against food means lead poisoning effects are magnified. Such concerns apply primarily to shotguns, firing pellets (shot) and not bullets, but reduction of hazardous substances (RoHS) legislation has also been applied to bullets on occasion to reduce the impact of lead on the environment at shooting ranges. United States Environmental Protection Agency announced that the agency does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product (lead bullets) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), nor is the agency seeking such authority. NRA-ILA :: EPA Denies Ammo Ban Petition
Potentially (and wrong-headedly) one could use depleted uranium munitions for hunting since lead pellets are banned because of their toxicity?

Then there's this

Some jurisdictions are acting on environmental concerns and banning hunting with lead shotgun pellets. This creates issues for shooters because stainless steel pellets are considered to behave sub-optimally in flight (don't fly right) compared to lead. The element bismuth is a safe alternative whose atomic mass is closer to lead than steel, and ammunition made from it is becoming ever more widely available.
How can Bismuth be "safe" if it is in the same chemical group as Phosphorus and Arsenic, and has basically the same atomic number as Lead?

Bismuth

Bismuth has unusually low toxicity for a heavy metal. As the toxicity of lead has become more apparent in recent years, alloy uses for bismuth metal, as a replacement for lead, have become an increasing part of bismuth's commercial importance

...

Scientific literature concurs with the idea that bismuth and its compounds are less toxic than lead or its other periodic table neighbours (antimony, polonium)[28] and that it is not bioaccumulative. Its biological half-life for whole-body retention is 5 days but it can remain in the kidney for years in patients treated with bismuth compounds.[29] In the industry, it is considered as one of the least toxic heavy metals.

Bismuth poisoning exists and mostly affects the kidney and liver. Skin and respiratory irritation can also follow exposure to respective organs. As with lead, overexposure to bismuth can result in the formation of a black deposit on the gingiva, known as a bismuth line.[30]

Bismuth's environmental impacts are not very well known. It is considered that its environmental impact is small, due in part to the low solubility of its compounds.[31] Limited information however means that a close eye should be kept on its impact.



So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 04:39:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lead bullets are not phased out from hunting, as the lead is not dangerous to the meat. The only limitations on lead ammunition here in Sweden is that you can't use lead ammunition for shotguns when you're hunting in swamps, where it is felt (though the science is in no way clear) that there might be leakage if the lead shot is deposited underwater.

Steel ammunition for shotguns create large tensions on the shotgun barrels, and steel ammunution for rifles is out of the question due to the reduced lethality and increased risk of penetration (the same reason it's illegal to hunt with full metal jacket, only expanding ammunition is allowed (except when hunting certain birds whcih would explode if hit with expanding ammunition)). For these very reasons we have replaced lead with steel in our military ammunition. And using anything but full metal jacket is contrary to the laws of war.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 06:42:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are depleted uranium rounds full-metal-jacket, too?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 06:51:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I bet they are. DU is used for its armour-penetrating characteristics including in rifles, where uranium (or tungsten) covered rounds are used to penetrate body armour. It would be insane to waste the armour penetration by using an expanding bullet. The heavier and more energetic the bullet, the easier it will penetrate the armour, but the easier it will also penetrate the body, which means less energy is deposited inside it and less damage is caused. When using full metal jacket the exit hole is often almost as small as the entry hole. An expanding bullet (soft-point and to an even greater degree hollow-point) will splash and flatten out against body armour, often not penetrating and not doing any more damage than a massive bruise, like if you were hit by a sledge hammer. However, if you are not wearing armour the exit hole, if there even is one, might be the size of a balled fist.

This is why you must use full metal jacket in war but must use expanding ammunition while hunting: hunting is about killing as efficiently and quickly as possible, while in war you wan't to avoid killing the enemy if possible, the goal is just taking him out of action. Not only does that mean that you'll be better of if hit yourself, but a wounded enemy soldier is a bigger drag on the enemy resources than a dead one is.

Furthermore, when we're talking about autocannon or tank shells, it would be completely useless to use anything but full metal jacket. Anyone hit by one of those is torn to pieces due to the heavy caliber and massive kinetic energy, no matter the design of the tip of the shell, not to mention that autocannon shells are often explosive. APFSDS are not, but due to the massive kinetic energy they'll turn your body into a fine red mist if you're hit.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 08:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
uranium (or tungsten) covered rounds are used to penetrate body armour
But that is the problem: uranium cover is more toxic than lead cover. I was thinking more uranium core and steel cover.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:22:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Woops! Seems I miswrote again. The core is uranium or tungsten, while the covering material is often teflon.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:27:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you want to repost the comment? I'll hide the original :P

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:28:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see no real reason to hide my ignorance and confusion. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 10:02:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet phosphorus shells are banned by some treaties and conventions, while the phosphorus that remains after an incendiary strike will eventually be turned into fertilizer.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 07:25:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Depleted Uranium should go the way of White Phosphorus.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 05:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WP shells are as far as I know not banned by any widely adopted treaties, especially not the chemical weapons treaty.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 08:49:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And another problem is the fine particles created, both inside the tank or other target and by the projectiles that miss and strike rocks, etc. Given the bio-toxicity of DU these projectiles, as described by Chris Busby, should be far higher on the list of things to be banned than landmines. A landmine is bad and can maim or kill anyone who detonated it accidentally, but they stay where they are placed. DU can be picked up and blown around the earth in sand storms.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 04:37:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that Uranium burns spontaneously is seen as a desirable property be weapons manufacturers, so DU rounds are not only deep penetrators, but incendiary.

But when Uranium burns it generates Uranium Oxide dust, which is much more hazardous than metallic Uranium.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 06:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
KE penetrating shells aren't steel jacketed

Kinetic energy penetrator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

To maximize the amount of kinetic energy released on the target, the penetrator must be made of a dense material, such as tungsten carbide or depleted uranium (DU) alloy (Staballoy). The hardness of the penetrator is of less importance, but is still a factor as abrasion is a major component of the penetrator defeat mechanism. As DU is itself not particularly hard, it is alloyed with nickel, zinc, or both. DU is pyrophoric; the heated fragments of the penetrator ignite after impact on contact with air, setting fire to fuel and/or ammunition in the target vehicle, thereby compensating for the lack of an explosive warhead in the penetrator. Additionally, DU penetrators exhibit significant adiabatic shear band formation. A common misconception is that, during impact, fractures along these bands cause the tip of the penetrator to continuously shed material, maintaining the tip's conical shape, whereas other materials such as unjacketed tungsten tend to deform into a less effective rounded profile, an effect called "mushrooming". Actually, the formation of adiabatic shear bands means that the sides of the "mushroom" tend to break away earlier, leading to a smaller head on impact, though it will still be significantly "mushroomed". Tests have shown that the hole bored by a DU projectile is of a narrower diameter than for a similar tungsten projectile


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 10:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why don't you folk use flint-tipped arrows like normal people?

<ducks>

Though one had to use a deer horn and lots of muscle to penetrate a well-made shield. Plus, you were then close enough to be forced to see the enemy's eyes/face. Made one think before acting.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 10:58:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At last, a voice of sanity.  Why are we discussing the military efficacy of various types of warheads and projectiles on ET?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 11:07:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're discussing their toxicity.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 12:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't this a diary on Liberal Interventionism?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 12:56:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I'm just a bit squeamish about people using their intelligence to design weapons optimised to maximise  death and suffering and opposed to the arms industry in general.  Of course in the "real world" you have to live with these things and accept they are part of "conflict resolution".  I prefer to concentrate on alternative non-violent processes.  Call me a wimp.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 01:37:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I won't call you a wimp. Just a non-hunter. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 09:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are correct in guessing I am a non-hunter, however I am also not sure what firing DU shells from several miles range has to do with hunting.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 05:25:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, my point was that being a hunter gives you a basic interest in different kinds of ammunition, especially as there are so many regulations covering what kind of ammunition you are allowed to use at different kinds of game. :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 08:52:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They aren't steel jacketed, but my point is that they certainly aren't of the expanding variety. They use materials even harder than steel for improved penetration.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 09:52:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, rereading this I spot an error. The reason that the Swedish army went from a lead core in its service ammunition to a steel core obviously had nothing to do with penetration, as no matter what the core is made of the bullet is still full metal jacket and hence has high penetration. The reason rather was a way to save money on the cleaning up of shooting ranges, as the environmental rules for letting steel lie around are far more lenient than those for lead.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:04:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd have thought that U cores on rifle bullets would have avoided the point. in the last couple of decades military ammunition has become smaller and lighter. partly because fighting has increasingly become urban, and so fighting ranges have dropped, partly to enable soldiers to  carry more ammunition, and partly on the callous calculus that if you only injure an opponent, you will in effect take three men out of the battle, one who's injured and two to carry them to the aid station.

A U core would both weigh more, and require more propellant to push the mass up to a velocity,  which would both reduce the amount of ammunition that can be carried, and increase the wear and maintenance needs of the weapon.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 10:30:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree on the use of small caliber because it makes you able to carry more ammunition. Urban combat however works in the opposite direction. In urban combat you want 7,62 battle rifles instead of 5,56 assault rifles, as the former is much better at shooting through walls. Our specialised urban combat batallions (if they haven't been cut yet) still use our old 7,62 battle rifle instead of the more modern 5,56 assault rifle.

Uranium cores for infantry weapons are quite rare (except when used by cops and robbers), but heavy metal ammunition is not. AP-ammunition has been manufactured for machineguns carried by the infantry, and then tungsten is usually used, IIRC.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 10:00:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found the comparison with water extremely strange.

He gave a value for water of approximately 3.

The atomic number of hydrogen is 1, and the atomic number of oxygen is 8. So, what is he doing? Averaging

1 + 1 + 84 = 4098 = 3 * 1366 = 3 * (6 + 1/12)4

So where does the 3.something for water come from?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 06:20:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is found in his writings: The Secondary Photoelectron effect
In principle, the Secondary Photoelectron effect may provide a mechanism to explain the observed toxicity of heavy metals.


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 09:15:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See also: Uranium toxicity: Advanced biochemical and biophysical effects [PDF] from http://www.baltic21.org/

What do heavy metals have in common chemically?

Answer:

Nothing

They have different chemistry, valency, affinity, redoxequilibria, normal ionisation states, reactivity, Lewis acidity, ionic radii, energy levels, colour, work functions, solubility, melting points, boiling points, etc. etc.

No physical chemist would understand the concept of a `heavy metal'.

But the highest atomic number elements have catalytic activity when finely divided (e.g. Pt, Pd, U)

Further:
The graph below is from the Royal Society Report. It shows that a continuous daily ingestion of 1μg will result in kidney concentration of 12μg/l . At this concentration DNA will be saturated with UO2++.
and
For the Group II metals, which bind to the DNA phosphate strongly, the i.v. LD50 (soluble salts) in rats is:
Mg, Ca:>2000harmless
Sr:540mg/kgsome toxicity
Ba:20mg/kghigh toxicity
This is the background for the youtube above. It has some of the same hand-drawn diagrams, and considerably more detail.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 09:32:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not like the danger of Uranium poisoning is so controversial, either:

Depleted uranium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The chemical toxicity of depleted uranium is about a million times greater in vitro than its radiological hazard.
I think the fact that Uranium is radioactive allows people to dismiss concerns about the health effects of depleted uranium by arguing "but it is barely radioactive so it must be safe!".

The point is that Uranium is

  1. radioactive
  2. a heavy element
  3. a(n inner) transition element

All of these have biophysical effects, and the radioactivity is the least of the problems here.

Irrational fear of radiation actually leads people astray here by making us focus on the intrinsic radioactivity.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 07:11:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The other issue is whether there are adequate quality controls to ensure DU contains the absolute minimum of u-234 and u-235 (and u-236 in the case of spent fuel rods).  Presumably there is a cost factor in assuring purity and thus short cuts might be taken by less scrupulous manufacturers.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:51:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depleted uranium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The chemical toxicity of depleted uranium is about a million times greater in vitro than its radiological hazard.

The specific claim is:

Depleted uranium (DU) is a dense heavy metal used primarily in military applications. Published data from our laboratory have demonstrated that DU exposure in vitro to immortalized human osteoblast cells (HOS) is both neoplastically transforming and genotoxic. DU possesses both a radiological (alpha particle) and a chemical (metal) component. Since DU has a low-specific activity in comparison to natural uranium, it is not considered to be a significant radiological hazard. In the current study we demonstrate that DU can generate oxidative DNA damage and can also catalyze reactions that induce hydroxyl radicals in the absence of significant alpha particle decay. Experiments were conducted under conditions in which chemical generation of hydroxyl radicals was calculated to exceed the radiolytic generation by one million-fold. The data showed that markers of oxidative DNA base damage, thymine glycol and 8-deoxyguanosine could be induced from DU-catalyzed reactions of hydrogen peroxide and ascorbate similarly to those occurring in the presence of iron catalysts. DU was 6-fold more efficient than iron at catalyzing the oxidation of ascorbate at pH 7. These data not only demonstrate that DU at pH 7 can induced oxidative DNA damage in the absence of significant alpha particle decay, but also suggest that DU can induce carcinogenic lesions, e.g. oxidative DNA lesions, through interaction with a cellular oxygen species.


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 06:31:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:22:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
((*youtube FfNyZ9Kryb8))



Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 05:57:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a nice writeup of Busby's argument on the Low Level Radiation Project websute: The Secondary Photoelectron effect
It appears improbable that the reported effects depend on the intrinsic radioactivity of Uranium. The hazard is more likely to be mediated by a mechanism known as the Secondary Photoelectron effect (SPE) in combination with the affinity between atomic Uranium and the DNA molecule.
The content is essentially that of the video. For instance,
ICRP, in considering gamma ray absorption, models the human body as water, H2O. It has been proposed (2) that the baseline of absorption in uncontaminated tissue should be established using Oxygen - the most massive of the atoms in the water molecules in the ICRP phantom. The atomic number of Oxygen is 8. 84 = 4096. The atomic number of Uranium is 92. 924 = 71639296. 71639296/4096 = 17490. This is the enhanced ability of an atom of Uranium to absorb incident gamma or X-rays, relative to an atom of oxygen. Energy absorbed in this way is re-emitted in the form of photoelectrons indistinguishable from beta radiation, potentially causing tissue damage.
I actually find it better than the oral presentation.

Now, there are a couple of papers on this: Enhancement of natural background gamma-radiation dose around uranium microparticles in the human body

Ongoing controversy surrounds the adverse health effects of the use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions. The biological effects of gamma-radiation arise from the direct or indirect interaction between secondary electrons and the DNA of living cells. The probability of the absorption of X-rays and gamma-rays with energies below about 200 keV by particles of high atomic number is proportional to the third to fourth power of the atomic number.
Note that here it's "third to fourth power" where in the LLRC's summary it is "at least 4th".
In such a case, the more heavily ionizing low-energy recoil electrons are preferentially produced; these cause dose enhancement in the immediate vicinity of the particles. It has been claimed that upon exposure to naturally occurring background gamma-radiation, particles of DU in the human body would produce dose enhancement by a factor of 500-1000, thereby contributing a significant radiation dose in addition to the dose received from the inherent radioactivity of the DU. In this study, we used the Monte Carlo code EGSnrc to accurately estimate the likely maximum dose enhancement arising from the presence of micrometre-sized uranium particles in the body. We found that although the dose enhancement is significant, of the order of 1-10, it is considerably smaller than that suggested previously.
LLRC criticises this research:
From 2008 the UK Health Protection Agency has engaged with LLRC in a limited dialogue on SPE. HPA has used inappropriate methods and has obstructed the dialogue. (14) A paper by Pattison et al. (15) has been criticised for inappropriate criteria on particulate Uranium, for inappropriate methodology, and for failing to address those aspects of the SPE hypothesis which involve atomic Uranium. (16)
Indeed the same mass of Uranium will be more contaminating if it is divided into finer particles. If the LLRC talks about molecular uranium dioxide while Pattison et al. talk about micrometre-sized uranium particles, they can shout past each other all day long and both could be right. Here's another paper: A MONTE CARLO ANALYSIS OF POSSIBLE CELL DOSE ENHANCEMENT EFFECTS BY URANIUM MICROPARTICLES IN PHOTON FIELDS
Uranium microparticles (radii: 50 nm-1.25 μm) were modelled surrounded by tissue and exposed to natural background radiation, in order to investigate potential dose enhancements from photon interactions. Generally, the results depended on the microparticle size. For a 0.5 μm radius microparticle in an isotropic field, it was found that the combined photon/electron doses deposited in 1 and 10 μm radii shells around it were raised by factors of ∼3.8 and ∼1.1, respectively; for a typical background photon fluence rate, these would correspond to increased energy depositions of a few 10s and a few 100s of eV y−1, which are far less than the likely deposition rate resulting from the radioactive decay of a 238U microparticle. The health hazard from uranium microparticle interactions with background photons was concluded to be negligible.
Again, is the risk from uranium microparticle much less than the risk from atomic uranium?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 09:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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