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From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Melting Uranium Glasses
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 02:07:40 EST

bill wrote:
> This one for all the chemistry heads....
> I'm looking at the possibility of melting and subsequently blowing some
> Uranium based glasses.
> I'm hearing alot of mixed reports on the hazards that may be associated
> with such a venture, and am looking for more information so as to decide
> whether or not to pursue this. Also what practicle steps should be taken
> to minimise the hazards further to the ones normally associated with
> batch melting.
> Please ignore this message if you are a member of Greenpeace.

Uranium is a toxic heavy metal but it is no worse than some of the
other metals we use to color our glass.  Uranium has one mitigating
property in that few of the uranium compounds are soluble and so are
not very bioavailable.  What that means is if you happen to inhale a
little oxide, it will be expelled along with the other stuff you
inhale and will not be absorbed.

Radiologically, uranium has a very low specific activity and so is
not very radioactive, even in pure metallic form.  The only
potential hazard is the inhalation of a very fine aerosol of U or
its compounds.  Such fine aerosols are not effectively eliminated by
the pulmonary system and so stick around and over a lifetime can
deliver a significant dose to the lung cells immediately surrounding
the particle.  Whether these so-called "hot particles" really are
harmful is a subject of hot debate in the health-physics community. 
In any event, the chemical toxicity greatly overrides any
radiological concern.

Basically, you need to take the same precautions when batching
uranium as you would with any other color stock.  Respirator, proper
venting, proper clothing, physical contamination control, etc.  


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