Disinformation about the radioactivity of depleted uranium

Following the news of March 2023 on the possible shipment of depleted uranium weapons to Ukraine, the CRIIRAD (1) returns to the disinformation on the radioactivity of depleted uranium.

Interviewed on 27/3/2023 at 9:40 a.m. on LCI, Bruno Chareyron was able to contradict an admiral who claimed that “depleted uranium has less radioactivity than a granite from Brittany. In fact, the total radioactivity of a depleted uranium shell head is several tens of millions of Bq/kg, while that of granite is a few thousand Bq/kg. (translator’s note: Bq/kg is Becquerel per kilogram where Becquerel is a unit used to measure radioactivity)

The scientifically erroneous discourse on the radioactivity of depleted uranium is at the origin of the trivialization of the use of this material for civilian and military purposes. See the book Les armes à l’uranium appauvri, jalons pour une interdiction (depleted uranium weapons, milestones for a ban), to which CRIIRAD contributed: https://www.grip.org/product/les-armes-a-uranium-appauvri-jalons-pour-une-interdiction/

The documentary film Dans les poubelles des marchands d’armes (in the dustbins of arms dealers), by Sophie Le Gall and Linda Bendali (2012), focuses on the health impacts of weapons testing near Bourges, as well as on the military center of Salto Di Quirra in Sardinia, Bruno Chareyron, director of the CRIIRAD laboratory, performs measurements on a shell containing depleted uranium and then on an object containing thorium 232.

(excerpt from the documentary)

In this video excerpt, measurements are made with a gamma scintillometer on a shell containing depleted uranium. The gamma dose rate is 50 times higher than the background. Other measurements (not shown in the video) show that the beta-gamma dose rate to the skin is 2,000 microSieverts per hour (TLD LiF CENG), or 20,000 times the background level (translator’s note: the Sievert is the unit for the dose of radiation that affects the human body). At 30 centimeters, the beta-gamma dose rate at the skin is still 25 μSv/h (TLD LiF CENG).

CRIIRAD fought (successfully) to have the use of depleted uranium banned in everyday consumer goods in France. However, some people still own, without being aware of it, various objects (pendants, paintings, tiles) that contain depleted uranium-based dyes.

To learn more:

(17-minute video)

See also the video from 2023 where measurements are made with an alpha-beta-gamma contamination meter on a tile colored with depleted uranium pigments. It contains less than 0.5 grams of depleted uranium whereas a shell contains hundreds of grams, even several kilograms.

Tatiana De Barelli