[ RadSafe ] Fwd: ruling out uranium vapor with x-rays

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Wed Apr 16 11:47:22 CDT 2008


-----Original Message-----
From: jsalsman at gmail.com [mailto:jsalsman at gmail.com] On Behalf Of Dave
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 5:51 PM
To: Brennan, Mike (DOH); radsafelist
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Fwd: ruling out uranium vapor with x-rays

Thanks for your questions, Mike.

>> Uranium vapor under what circumstances?

>Carter and Stewart (1970) states, "about half of the internal mass of
burning uranium is emitted violently as a vapor."

>Carl Alexander of Battelle has written in email (20 Apr 2006 16:31)
that, "gaseous UO3 would be the major product of uranium burning in

>Do you have any reason to doubt those statements?

I don't know if UO3 is "the major" product of uranium burning in air,
but be that as it may.  Like many compounds that are gaseous or airborne
when created in a fire, as they cool they settle out, plate onto
surfaces, undergo further chemical reactions, etc., and cease being
airborne.  What percentage of the UO3 produced will remain in a vapor
state when the combustion products have cooled to environmental

Also, at what concentration do you believe gaseous UO3 is no longer?
One atom per cubic meter?  One disintegration per second per cubic
meter?  How long after the fire is this concentration reached?  

>> are you equally concerned about the vapors of lead, copper, titanium,
mercury, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, etc, vapors?

>I am not aware that those metals burn in quantities anywhere near the
quantities of uranium which burns when it is used as an armor-piercing
projectile, nor that anyone has stated their vapors are an inhalation

Gaseous lead compounds not an inhalation hazard?  The world-wide
gasoline industry spent decades and probably trillions of dollars going
unleaded on the assumption they are.  Mercury vapor not a hazard?  Then
why are broken florescent tubes treated as a Hazmat event?  Magnesium
and phosphorous vapors not hazardous?  I've heard arguments put forward
(by people probably on your side of the DU question) that incendiary
weapons using these are really poisonous gas weapons (an argument with
some merit) and use is therefore a Crime Against Humanity.

If you are limiting the discussion to ONLY DU projectiles, and
dismissing out of hand far, far greater risk hazards of the battle
field, then I suggest that we expand the discussion to include some
non-metals that might combust during the event.  The ammunition of the
armored vehicle would seem to be the highest hazard substance.  Fuel
would be up there, too.  A lot of electronic equipment burn with
hazardous fumes, too.  We will leave for the moment the crew, as if they
are burnt to death the long term effects of DU are moot.

Clearly, breathing UO3 is not the highest health hazard associated with
being in a armored vehicle hit with an armor-piercing projectile,
whether it is DU or not.  Fortunately, the solution is fairly simple to
avoid all of these hazards: Done ride around in armored vehicles where
people might shoot at you.  Are you part of an anti-armored vehicle
campaign?  If all armored vehicles were outlawed there would be no need
for DU projectiles.

>> How do YOU know if the flaw is in the understanding of the vast
majority of the professionals in the field, or in your understanding?
What would it take for you to be convinced that you have overestimated
uranium as a health issue?

>Every professional who studied the issue of uranium inhalation --
including who who I know to be on Radsafe -- has either completely
omitted any mention of uranium genotoxicity in their publications on the
subject admitted specifically that they never considered it in preparing
their conclusions.

>And now there is this claim that high-energy x-rays can't detect any
uranium in the condensate.

>Please take this question seriously:  Why not count alphas?

I must have missed something:  What condensate?  I thought the
contention was that UO3 remained in a vapor state, available to be

As for counting alphas; sure, have at it.  Alpha counters aren't that
expensive.  Be sure to account for radon daughter products and naturally
occurring uranium in the environment.  Maintain good chain of custody,
and use techniques that others can reproduce.  

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