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J Environ Radioact. 2005;78(2):125-35.

Oxidation states of uranium in depleted uranium particles from Kuwait.

Author information

  • 1Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Isotope Laboratory, Agricultural University of Norway, P.O. Box 5028, 1432 Aas, Norway. brit.salbu@ipm.nlh.no

Abstract

The oxidation states of uranium in depleted uranium (DU) particles were determined by synchrotron radiation based mu-XANES, applied to individual particles isolated from selected samples collected at different sites in Kuwait. Based on scanning electron microscopy with X-ray microanalysis prior to mu-XANES, DU particles ranging from submicrons to several hundred micrometers were observed. The median particle size depended on sources and sampling sites; small-sized particles (median 13 microm) were identified in swipes taken from the inside of DU penetrators holes in tanks and in sandy soil collected below DU penetrators, while larger particles (median 44 microm) were associated with fire in a DU ammunition storage facility. Furthermore, the (236)U/(235)U ratios obtained from accelerator mass spectrometry demonstrated that uranium in the DU particles originated from reprocessed fuel (about 10(-2) in DU from the ammunition facility, about 10(-3) for DU in swipes). Compared to well-defined standards, all investigated DU particles were oxidized. Uranium particles collected from swipes were characterized as UO(2), U(3)O(8) or a mixture of these oxidized forms, similar to that observed in DU affected areas in Kosovo. Uranium particles formed during fire in the DU ammunition facility were, however, present as oxidation state +5 and +6, with XANES spectra similar to solid uranyl standards. Environmental or health impact assessments for areas affected by DU munitions should therefore take into account the presence of respiratory UO(2), U(3)O(8) and even UO(3) particles, their corresponding weathering rates and the subsequent mobilisation of U from oxidized DU particles.

PMID:
15511555
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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