Exposure to depleted uranium and uranium

  • When DU is used, it presents little danger to the overall content of uranium in the environment under normal circumstances. The most potential of DU exposure that would cause conflict is when DU munitions will be used.
  • In the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recent findings, it gave field measurements taken from chosen impact places in Kosovo. It showed that the contamination of DU in the environment is confined to a couple of ten meters surrounding the impact sites. The DU dust contamination of vegetation and water in the area was showed to be very low. This further indicates that the DU exposure in the surrounding area of the impact sites is very low.
  • One UN team explained that in November 2002 they have located traces of DU at three sites among the fourteen sites being investigated in Bosnia after the NATO airstrike incident in 1995. A complete report on this matter will be released in March 2003 by the UNEP.
  • The DU levels may also exceed the background uranium levels. As time goes by, the contamination is dispersed into a wider area by natural agents such as rain and wind. For the people who live or work near the contaminated areas, they may inhale the DU dusts or eat and drink contaminated material. 
  • For those who are near any aircraft crash can also be exposed to DU contamination if the counterweights of the plane is exposed to prolonged, very intense heat. Significant exposure to DU is rare because large amounts of DU counterweights are not likely to ignite and are likely to oxidize slowly. The exposures of emergency and clean-up workers are also possible after an aircraft crash but the normal protective suits should be able to prevent significant exposure to the contamination.

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