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View Diary: What you did NOT see on thursday's ABC Nightline!!! (267 comments)

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  •  sadly, no (none)

    while it's true it's not highly radioactive, it is still radioactive. from Dan Fahey's article linked at the site above:

    After the enrichment process, DU emits approximately 40% less alpha radiation (high energy particles that travel only a few centimeters in air) than natural uranium. DU emits about 15% less gamma radiation than natural uranium. The beta radiation of DU is nearly identical to that of natural uranium, and the chemical toxicity is exactly the same as natural uranium as it is independent of the isotopic composition of uranium.
    •  DU is woefully (4.00)
      misunderstood by 99% of the population.

      The above post is correct.  The big problem with DU isn't its inherent radioactivity (although long term exposure IS a problem):
      If you handed me a sphere of DU I would hold it, just for the novelty of it.  Its basically harmless to walk around with a slug of DU for a few hours.  

      The real problem lies in the fact that DU's military application is that of an armor penetrator.

      DU is actually perferable to tungsten penetrators for 2 reasons.  1) its denser, which is helpful, but 2) more importantly, it liquifies (and the outer surface ignites) at high temperatures and pressures (3. its also much cheaper then tungsten).   Because of its state change properties upon impact with the armor, it forms a much sharper penetrator than tungsten.

      The problem of course, is that because ofr the liquification and then ignitiion of the DU, it forms an aerosol of Oxidized uranium.  While its certainly NOT true to say that DU is 'about as radioactive as dirt' (its about 70,000 times above that level), most of the radioactivity comes from the emission of alpha particles, which, external of hte human body, is harmless.  Breathing or eating alpha-emitters, however, is not a good thing, and thus, breathing in DU dust in high concentrations is significantly more dangerous than holding a block of DU in your hand.  Additionally, as the poster above said, Uranium is a heavy metal poison, and breathing it in, irregardless of its radioactivity, can lead to significant health problems.

      Anyone interested in a comprehensive explination of DU and a study of DU use in the Gulf War (I) should check this link out:

      Its written by Nuclear Physicist and I recommend it highly.


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