[ RadSafe ] RE: Report of the Royal Society on the health hazards of DU munitions

A Karam paksbi at rit.edu
Thu Mar 9 14:40:14 CST 2006

Of course DU has the same chemical properties as natural U.  It also has the same chemical properties as HEU.  Uranium is uranium.  The number of protons controls the number of electrons, which controls the chemical properties.  The number of neutrons has abolutely nothing to do with chemical properties.
Light elements will undergo fractionation. We see this in geology and in some biological systems.  But fractionation by natural systems (including biokinetics) is largely absent above atomic weights of about 40, and it is not observed at all in natural systems for any atom heavier than about 50 or so.  With a mass of 235 and higher, we are not going to see any fractionation of uranium isotopes in nature.  And all other chemical properties of U are the same, whether we're talking about DU, natural U, or enriched U. 
If anyone wants to learn more about isotopic fractionation, I'd recommend sections of Gunter Faure's books on Isotope Geology and Inorganic Geochemistry.  If you want to learn about how light isotope fractionation can be useful in climate studies, check out the web site of the Byrd Polar Research Institute (Center?) at the Ohio State University.
P. Andrew Karam, Ph.D., CHP


From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl on behalf of John R Johnson

Dr. Parthasarathy

I've reviewed the 2 Royal Society references you recommended and the summary
(Document 6/02, dated March 2002). I also looked at the report from the
Health Council of the Netherlands (Health risks of exposure to depleted
uranium, An overview, 2001) again.

I don't think there is anything in these reports that "proves" that depleted
uranium has a different non-radiological risk than natural uranium.

John R Johnson, Ph.D.

More information about the RadSafe mailing list