Depleted Uranium Properties and Health Effects

DU is a by-product of the naturally occurring heavy metal uranium, after the more radioactive isotopes have been removed from uranium ore when it is enriched to make nuclear reactor fuel or nuclear weapons. DU has the same chemical properties as uranium, but because it has had much of its radioactive component removed, it is 40 percent less radioactive than naturally occurring uranium. The main health concern related to DU exposure is chemical toxicity since once inside the body, DU shares metabolic pathways and possible toxicities with other heavy metals. The principal target organ of DU toxicity is the kidney.

Information on DU Properties and Health Effects