Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 Sep;7(9):3313-31. doi: 10.3390/ijerph7093313. Epub 2010 Aug 26.

Characterization and cytotoxic assessment of ballistic aerosol particulates for tungsten alloy penetrators into steel target plates.

Author information

  • 1Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968, USA.


The nature and constituents of ballistic aerosol created by kinetic energy penetrator rods of tungsten heavy alloys (W-Fe-Ni and W-Fe-Co) perforating steel target plates was characterized by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. These aerosol regimes, which can occur in closed, armored military vehicle penetration, are of concern for potential health effects, especially as a consequence of being inhaled. In a controlled volume containing 10 equispaced steel target plates, particulates were systematically collected onto special filters. Filter collections were examined by scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM) which included energy-dispersive (X-ray) spectrometry (EDS). Dark-field TEM identified a significant nanoparticle concentration while EDS in the SEM identified the propensity of mass fraction particulates to consist of Fe and FeO, representing target erosion and formation of an accumulating debris field. Direct exposure of human epithelial cells (A549), a model for lung tissue, to particulates (especially nanoparticulates) collected on individual filters demonstrated induction of rapid and global cell death to the extent that production of inflammatory cytokines was entirely inhibited. These observations along with comparisons of a wide range of other nanoparticulate species exhibiting cell death in A549 culture may suggest severe human toxicity potential for inhaled ballistic aerosol, but the complexity of the aerosol (particulate) mix has not yet allowed any particular chemical composition to be identified.


aerosol; ballistic penetration; cytotoxic assays; nanoparticulates; scanning and transmission electron microscopy; tungsten alloys

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk