RadTown USA
Depleted  Uranium  Projectiles

Uranium was first mined in the 1400s, when it was used to create a red-orange color in
ceramics. In the 1800s, uranium was mined to get to radium, which was thought to have
medicinal properties. Uranium mining expanded again during World War II as several
world powers sought to create nuclear weapons.

Uranium is one of the most common radioactive elements found in the ground. Ore is
mined and then processed and the metal has many uses. Much of the highly radioactive
isotope of uranium (uranium-235) is removed and used for nuclear power and weapons.
The remaining uranium, known as depleted uranium (DU), is left.  DU is 40 percent less radioactive then
natural uranium because most of the radioactive uranium-235 isotope has been removed. DU is used for a
number of military and scientific applications, such as enhanced tank armor and balance weights for aircrafts.

In the 1970's the U.S. Department of Defense began to search for a high density metal that could penetrate the
Soviet Union's sophisticated armor. Tungsten and DU were the top two choices.  Since the U.S. Department
of Energy was operating facilities that were producing DU as a waste product, DU was determined to be the
most logical choice due to its abundant availability.

The first major use of DU in the battlefield was during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. During the war,
approximately 20 U.S. soldiers were hit with  DU fragments that became permanently embedded in their
bodies. To date, studies have shown that these soldiers have not experienced health problems related to DU.
The soldiers' children, who were born after the war, have not shown any DU related health problems either,
such as birth or developmental defects. However, the amount of data is very small and additional studies are

Who  is protecting you

U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)

Through programs and policies, such as the 2003 Health Affairs Policy and Operation Iraqi Freedom DU
Medical Management, DoD monitors the men and women of the Armed Forces for potential and confirmed
exposure to DU. In addition, the Deputy Secretary of Defense ordered  DU education programs to  be
introduced  in military training.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

The mission of DOE's Depleted UF6 (Uranium) Management Program is to safely and efficiently manage the
Department's inventory of DU in a way that protects workers, the public, and the environment.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

It is unlikely that the  average American civilian would come into contact with depleted uranium or
technologically-enriched uranium. However, EPA does have standards and special programs that focus on
radiation from uranium mines and mills. Specifically, EPA sets Maximum Contamination Levels for uranium
in drinking water and dose standards for inhalation around DU production plants.
 United States Environmental Protection Agency  |  Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6608J)
EPA 402-F-07-047  |  June 2008
                                                              www. epa.gov/radtown/depleted_uranium. html

 RadTown  USA
What you can do to protect yourself

Be Informed: Although DU poses little risk when outside the body, DU has about as much toxicity as other
heavy metals, like lead. Because DU can cause kidney damage if inhaled or ingested in large amounts, it
should be avoided by humans and animals.


You can explore this radiation source further through the resources at the following URL:

We link to these resources to maintain up-to-date information.
 United States Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6608J)  |   EPA 402-F-07-047
                                                                                  June 2008
                                                            www. epa.gov/radtown/depleted_uranium. html