In every way, yes. Most depleted uranium is stored as uranium hexafluoride inside massive steel cylinders. When exposed to water vapor in the air, it produces both a solid and a toxic gas. The solid plugs the leak in a tank, but the gas is the worst sort of air pollution. Even when used and stored correctly, an aerosol cloud produced around the impact point of a DU bullet can contaminate a wide area and poison both humans and animals.
Overall DU makes a negligible contribution to the overall natural background levels of uranium in the environment. The uranium remaining after the removal of the enriched fraction is what is referred to as depleted uranium or DU. that being siad – the greatest potential for DU exposure is from DU munitions. In terms of environmental exposures – studies done by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have found that contamination is usually localized and that local vegetation and water supplies were generally found to have extremely low levels. Over time, contamination disperses into the wider natural environment by wind and rain, and people living or working in affected areas may inhale contaminated dusts or consume contaminated food and drinking water. Recommendations are that following conflict, levels of DU contamination in food and drinking water, be monitored, as well as clean-up operations in impact zones if there are substantial numbers of radioactive projectiles remaining and where qualified experts deem contamination levels to be unacceptalbe.
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