Thursday, May 10, 2007

Uranium Lite Revisited

Warning -- snark and rant alert!!

Common Dreams, re-posted an article The Guardian published on Tuesday about actual honest-to-God scientific research being done on Depleted Uranium, aka DU, but which much more accurately should called by the term they use in the Third Galaxy -- "Uranium Lite".

Scientists at the University of South Maine added particulate DU to cell cultures and -- WOW! -- they discovered that damage to chromosomes occurs! They say that it is too early to be sure, but particulate DU, known as "death dust" in the Third Galaxy, when lodged in human lungs could cause cancer!

Who would ever have suspected results like that? Frankly, these guys must be doing "junk science"! Don't they understand that the US Military has repeatedly confirmed that DU is harmless?

If anybody should know, the US military should know -- heck, they have disseminated several thousand tons of DU over Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan and there have been no reports whatsoever of health problems from civilians or soldiers! Well, not that many reports and in, any case, such reports have not come through the official channels, which are the only ones a decent Arrogant citizen would ever trust!

The fact is that DU is good -- it helps us win wars, smash tanks and kill bad guys.

It's just like bullshit which also is harmless. When spread out on the meadow, it helps the grass grow green and you can used to the smell. But, do I have to do research to know that people don't like to step in or prove that if you eat bullshit it will make you ill?

[End of snark, almost...]

The article in the Guardian begins with this graf:

"Depleted uranium, which is used in armor-piercing ammunition, causes widespread damage to DNA which could lead to lung cancer, according to a study of the metal's effects on human lung cells. The study adds to growing evidence that DU causes health problems on battlefields long after hostilities have ceased. DU is a byproduct of uranium refinement for nuclear power. It is much less radioactive than other uranium isotopes." [my stress]

Whether due to spin, misunderstanding or plain ignorance, the lines in bold caught my attention and I must comment.

DU is NOT an isotope — U238 is an isotope.

"Virgin" uranium is a cocktail of U isotopes, mainly U238 and U235, but other isotopes and radioactive elements are present.

DU is NOT U238 -- the byproduct of refining uranium for nuclear power AND nuclear weapons is NOT the pure isotope (U238) as the article seems to imply. The fact is that DU is a bit less than half as radioactive as virgin uranium.

Jeeze, that is why we call it Uranium Lite in the Third Galaxy!

As mentioned before, virgin uranium contains other radioactive elements than uranium, furthermore, it is not always virgin uranium that DU is a by product of, it can also be waste from refining material from breeder reactors -- in which case, DU will contain traces of Plutonium, Americium and death metal shit.

ALL radioactive material decays in cascades to other elements, many of which are much much more unstable (=radioactive) than the original element (and that DOES include U238)

As alpha emitters, none of the U isotopes are dangerous — OUTSIDE the body! An alpha particle is basically a helium nucleus with a high velocity -- kinetic energy. As it has a positive electric charge, it can only inches through the air and cannot even penetrate the outer layers of the skin. On the other hand, inside the body, the only thing to stop it are living cells...

The lungs are obviously a bad place in which to lodge an alpha emitter. However, such material, as dust or larger particles, if ingested along with food or liquids, will mostly end up in kidneys.

In conclusion, Uranium Lite (and virgin uranium for that matter) is as harmless as bullshit as long as you don't wallow in it or eat it along with your yogurt.

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