Embedded Fragments Properties and Health Effects

Embedded fragment injuries can occur not only from standard-use munitions including explosively formed penetrators, but also from improvised explosive devices. Fragments can be composed of a wide range of metals (e.g., iron, copper, lead, uranium, tungsten, nickel, cobalt) and organic and composite materials (e.g., plastic, ceramic, cement, plaster, glass).

Health effects caused by embedded fragments depend on the chemical composition and corrosiveness of the material(s) composing the fragment and can be local and/or systemic. Local effects can range from foreign body reactions to the development of tumors at the site of the fragment. Systemic effects result from toxic effects on target organs (e.g., renal, reproductive and neurological effects) resulting from chemicals released by the fragments. With few exceptions, the behavior of specific types of fragments when embedded in the body has not been fully identified.

Information on Embedded Fragments Properties and Health Effects