Evaluation of health and environmental risks associated with the life-cycle of tungsten-based ammunition
van der Horst, R.M.
van Hulst, M.
le Grand, N.P.
ter Elst, O.A.A.M.
TNO Defensie en Veiligheid
Tungsten-based ammunition is generally considered to be less harmful and more environmentally friendly than ammunition based on depleted uranium. However, recent studies have shown severe health effects in rats after embedding fragments of weapons grade Tungsten/Nickel/Cobalt in their leg muscle tissue, Interestingly, Tungsten/Nickel/Iron did not produce adverse effects in rats. These findings have raised questions on the safety of using Tungsten alloys. Tungsten–based ammunition is widely present within The Netherlands’ Armed Forces. A study is currently performed in which situations and conditions are identified within the operational life-cycle of this type of ammunition where a risk for military personnel or the environment may occur. Also, these risks are evaluated and suggestions for their mitigation will be made. It will be possible to identify Tungsten alloys that are less harmful for man and environment, but it may well be that these are less efficient as weapons. In order to screen new Tungsten alloys that could be used in weapons for toxicity, existing in vitro toxicity tests are being evaluated for their predictive value. The results obtained so far will be presented. This study is supported by The Netherlands’ Defence Materiel Organization.
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Partners in Environmental Technology Technical Symposium & Workshop. Meeting DoD's Environmental Challenges, Washington, DC, USA, 1-3 December 2009