Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Radiological dirty bombs has moved well beyond the plotting and
shooting stage, and has produced dire consequences. Toxic, radioactive uranium-238, called depleted uranium may be responsible for deadly health
Depleted uranium "penetrators" as they are called burn on impact and up to 70 percent of the DU is released (aerosolized) as toxic and radioactive dust that can be inhaled and ingested and later trapped in the lungs or kidneys.
These uranium oxide particles emit all types of radiation: alpha, beta and gamma, and can be carried in the air over long distances.
DU is left after uranium ore has gone through the gaseous diffusion process that removes most of the fissionable isotope U-235. DU is used in munitions for piercing armor plate.
The most serious exposure to DU occurs when a large amount is taken into the body, absorbed by the blood, and then carried to tissues and organs where it can do damage. There are three
primary ways that DU can enter your body. They are by ingestion (drinking or eating), inhalation (breathing dust), and through wound contamination or DU fragments embedded in the body. Skin contact or being near intact DU munitions or armored tanks will not cause this type of exposure or bring DU into your body. DU dust can be inhaled during and immediately after DU munitions have struck a vehicle or if DU munitions are involved in a fire on the battlefield. DU dust can also be inhaled by people in or around armored vehicles after they are damaged by DU munitions. People near the crash of some aircraft may also be exposed to DU dusts from burning counterweights if the DU is exposed to prolonged intense heat.
Since kidneys remove uranium, urine tests can identify when people have been exposed to higher than normal amounts of uranium, including depleted uranium.
While the term "depleted" implies it isn't dangerous, depleted uranium is still radioactive and