[ RadSafe ] Salsman's "dozen reports" about Gulf War DU

James Salsman james at bovik.org
Tue Jul 11 16:58:50 CDT 2006


Thank you for your reply:

> On June 27 James Salsman (JS) wrote, "I can give you a dozen reports, 
> e.g., at least ten from Dr. Melissa McDairmid's group alone, which 
> claim no increase in cancer incidence rates in uranium-exposed Gulf 
> War veterans...."
> On July 3, JS gave citations to 12 papers about DU exposure, medical 
> surveillance of Gulf War vets, and health effects in these vets; and 
> to one editorial by McDiarmid....
> To simplify matters somewhat, none of these papers (or the editorial) 
> said anything about increases in cancer....  What they said was that 
> no "clinical abnormalities" had been observed ... or that there were 
> no adverse health findings....
> I suppose Salsman will say that since the reports didn't say 
> there *was* an increase that is tantamount to claiming no increase....

The reports specifically claimed no clinical abnormalities or adverse 
health findings -- that is very different from not saying that there 
was an increase.  

I trust you have spent as much time looking for Colonel Eric Daxon's 
claimed Veterans' Administration study which "found that Gulf War 
veterans REPORTED more birth defects than non-Gulf War Veterans. When 
they actually did the study and examined the medical records, the 
birth defect rates were equal to the normal population rates," adding, 
"the paper that found that the birth defect rates were equivalent did 
not receive much press." If such a study existed, the pro-DU types 
would be running it up every flagpole they could find.

Since I see, looking through the archives, that Colonel Daxon claimed
that I "did not relate the main thrust of ... Dr. Alexander's comments 
concerning UO3," I am providing Carl Alexander's email on the subject
below.  Dr. Alexander, currently at Battelle, has been studying the 
chemistry of uranium oxide vapors for over 45 years (e.g., Ackermann RJ, 
Thorn RJ, Alexander C, Tetenbaum M (1960) "Free Energies of Formation 
of Gaseous Uranium, Molybdenum, and Tungsten Trioxides," Journal of 
Physical Chemistry 64: 350-355) and his most recent work on the subject 
is Alexander CA (2005) "Volatilization of urania under strongly 
oxidizing conditions," Journal of Nuclear Materials 346: 312-318 --
-- which is interesting for listing partial pressures or uranium 
trioxide gas at temperatures up to 2200 Kelvin.

James Salsman

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject:     RE: uranium combustion produces how much UO3(g)?
Date:     Thu, 20 Apr 2006 16:31:15 -0400
From:     Alexander, Carl A (alexandc at battelle dot org)
To:     James Salsman (james at bovik dot org)

I would expect that gaseous UO3 would be the major product of
such .burning. in air. I consulted and reviewed Wendell Wilson.s
paper prior to publication so I am familiar with it although I
haven.t seen it in a good many years. I don.t know the health hazard
of gaseous UO3 but chemically it behaves a lot like WO3 and WO3 is
certainly a bad actor. Gaseous UO3 is quite stable and you are
correct that upon condensing it would likely become U3O8.

-----Original Message-----
From: James Salsman
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 4:11 PM
To: Alexander, Carl A
Subject: uranium combustion produces how much UO3(g)?

Dear Dr. Alexander: 

Thank you for publishing your paper, "Volatilization of urania
under strongly oxidizing conditions," which I recently read
with great interest.  I have been trying to determine the amount
of UO3(g) produced from combustion of uranium.  I have recently
been corresponding with the famous coordination chemist Prof.
Simon Cotton, who suggested that I contact you with my question. 

Depleted uranium munitions such as those used for 20-30 mm and
larger antitank ordnance are incendiary due to the pyrophoric
nature of uranium.  More than 30% of such bullets' uranium metal
burns in air when they are fired against hard targets.  It
seems that the burning temperature should usually be above 2500
Kelvin, because the bullets are described as fragmenting into a
spray of tiny particles as they pass through armor.  (Mouradian
and Baker (1963) "Burning Temperatures of Uranium and Zirconium
in Air," Nuclear Science and Engineering, vol. 15, pp. 388-394.)

Inhalation of uranium combustion fumes is suspected in major
illnesses reported in veterans and civilians of the February,
1991 Gulf War.  However, none of the people responsible for
determining the health hazards has yet reported measurements of
the gas vapors produced, only the particulate aerosol fumes,
which are described as 25% UO2 and 75% U3O8 (Gilchrist R.L.,
et al. (1979) "Characterization of Airborne Uranium from Test
Firings of XM774 Ammunition," Technical report no. PNL-2944
Richland, WA: Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory.) Based on
the thermodynamic formation energy data I have been able to
find (H. Wanner and I. Forest, eds. (2004) Chemical
Thermodynamics of Uranium (Paris: OECD and French Nuclear
Energy Agency) http://www.nea.fr/html/dbtdb/pubs/uranium.pdf
-- see table V.4 on p. 98) it seems like production of UO3
would be much more likely than UO2 or U3O8.  Moreover,
condensation and subsequent decomposition of UO3(g) can
explain the U3O8(s) product:  see Wilson, W.B. (1961)
"High-Pressure High-Temperature Investigation of the
Uranium-Oxygen System," Journal of Inorganic Nuclear Chemistry,
vol. 19, pp. 212-222, at the bottom of p. 213.

If there are substantial amounts of UO3(g) produced in uranium
fires, that could explain discrepancies in both troop exposure
patterns and the solubility and resulting pharmokinetics of
those exposed.  Most people have been assuming that only the
particulate aerosols present any exposure risk.  But those
settle out of the atmosphere much more quickly than gas, which
is absorbed immediately if inhaled in contrast to the great
length of time which it takes for UO2 and U3O8 particles to
dissolve in the lungs.  Urine tests intended to determine
exposure which measure the ratio of uranium 238 and 235
isotopes assume that only particulate aerosols and not quickly
absorbed and dissolving gas have been encountered.  Those urine
tests have been negative for exposure in patients who have the
symptoms of uranyl poisoning.

Can you please help shed any light on the amount of UO3(g)
produced when uranium burns in air?  Thank you.

James Salsman

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