Recent research by the Department of Geology at University of Leicester, and at the British Geological Survey aims to improve understanding of how depleted uranium particulate behaves in the environment. PhD research student Nicholas Lloyd has identified uranium oxide particulate that has survived more than 25 years in the environment, and depleted uranium contamination nearly 6 km from point of release.
The use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by US and British forces has been highly controversial; on impact with armoured targets they shed uranium particulate that can be inhaled into the lungs. DU is both weakly radioactive and chemically toxic. Concerns raised by campaign groups have been the subject of numerous newspaper headlines, and it is frequently cited as a possible cause of Gulf War syndrome.
However, under the scrutiny of peer-review, scientific studies have so far failed to demonstrate a significant connection between inhalation exposure and human ill-health. One of the problems is that no studied non-occupational populations have been shown to have significant inhalation exposure to DU.
During the 1960s and ‘70s an estimated 5 tonnes of uranium was emitted into the environment, in a residential area of Colonie, NY, USA. Local residents are concerned that they were exposed to airborne particulate, and have campaigned for a health study. The current research could provide valuable baseline data for such a study.
The researchers led by Professor Randall Parrish collected hundreds of soil and dust samples last July, with the help of local residents and Dr John Arnason of SUNY at Albany. Soils and dusts have been examined using scanning electron microscopy, and reveal micrometer diameter uranium-rich particulate (invisible to the naked eye). These particles may be resuspended and inhaled. The samples have also been analysed by mass spectrometry, revealing contamination several hundreds of times greater than background near source, and trace contamination 35 cm below surface and as far afield as 5.8 km.
Nicholas said that the study by University of Leicester and the British Geological Survey aims to improve understanding of how depleted uranium particulate behaves in the environment. The study shows that uranium oxide particulate is both mobile and durable in the environment.
The research is being presented to the public at the University of Leicester on June 29. The Festival of Postgraduate Research introduces employers and the public to the next generation of innovators and cutting-edge researchers, and gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to explain the real world implications of their research to a wide ranging audience.
More information on the Festival of Postgraduate Research at: www.le.ac.uk/gradschool/festival
Ather Mirza | University of Leicester
The unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs
14.11.2018 | Uppsala University
Earth's magnetic field measured using artificial stars at 90 kilometers altitude
14.11.2018 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
14.11.2018 | Life Sciences