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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 ]

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