[ RadSafe ] Electron Microscopy of Depleted Uranium Samples

Redmond, Randy (RXQ) redmondrr at y12.doe.gov
Tue Mar 5 05:25:14 CST 2013

We routinely examine DU, including mounted oxides, with electron microscopes and do not have any issues with it. If you consider that DU is ~ 1 dpm/microgram and the DAC is ~160 dpm/cubic meter, there will have to be a major upset in an electron microscope to cause an airborne problem; I can't imagine what that would be. Do not have to worry about the DU oxide catching fire either.  Perform a survey for removable following each examination/series of examinations.

Randy Redmond
B&W Y-12
Radiological Engineering

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu [mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Kent Lambert
Sent: Friday, March 01, 2013 11:23 AM
To: radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Electron Microscopy of Depleted Uranium Samples



Our electron microscopy laboratory is concerned with a proposed project
involving electron microscopy of a sample containing depleted uranium.  The
sample will have 6 DU wafers sandwiched between 7 ceramic wafers with each
wafer approximately 10 mm x 10 mm x 2mm thick. 


The concern is, well, here is a quote:


"These issues relate both to health and safety for protecting users and
staff and visitors from materials that could conceivably (e.g. due to a user
mistake) have residual powders and to liability particularly involving the
instruments and persons. Among the safety measures is the need for proper
venting of a vacuum system using DU samples, and concerns of potential risk
using DU in a system that has an ion beam."


They are also concerned with, "returning of parts and subsystems [to the
OEM] for repair/rebuild."


My first thought was that uranyl acetates and nitrates are routinely used in
EM and no concerns are raised regarding contamination of the equipment or
ventilation system.  Of course DU metal has chemical and physical properties
that make it "fun" under certain circumstances (rapid oxidation,
pyrophoricity).  Does anyone have experience with DU metal in a scanning
electron microscope (and/or a focused ion beam SEM) that they can share?  




Kent Lambert, M.S., CHP

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