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The health hazards of depleted uranium

This review of the health hazards associated with uranium weapons first appeared in UNIDIR's journal 'Disarmament Forum' in October 2008.
22 October 2008 - Dr Ian Fairlie


  • UNIDIR - The health hazards of uranium weapons

    226 Kb - Format pdf
    Dr Ian Fairlie - Source:
    For over two decades, there has been considerable public debate about the health effects of depleted uranium (DU). Military services in many countries use depleted uranium in munitions and to strengthen armour in vehicles. This is because uranium is a very dense metal (approximately 70% more dense than lead), which is useful in a military context—and the chemical and physical properties of natural uranium metal and DU metal are very similar. DU alloys are very hard and pyrophoric, properties which make them superior to tungsten armour-piercing munitions. DU armour-plating is also more resistant to penetration by conventional anti-tank munitions. DU munitions were first used extensively in the First Gulf War (1991), in Bosnia (1995) and Kosovo (1999), and continue to be used in Iraq since 2003 and perhaps in Afghanistan since 2002.