2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: loc@icx.net
Date: 11 Feb 2003 17:02:07 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: RE: [CPEO-MEF] Scientists say tungsten a promising clue to leukemia cluster
It's always worthwhile to delve into the facts about a substance when
attempting to evaluate news reports such as the one that began this

I had a look at the Material Safety Data Sheet for tungsten from the
following website: http://www.hummelcroton.com/w_m.html.  

- Acute Health & Toxic Effects - Irritating to the skin and eyes on
contact. Inhalation will cause irritation to the lungs and mucus
membrane. Irritation to the eyes will cause watering and redness.
Reddening, scaling, and itching are characteristics of skin
inflammation. Follow safe industrial hygiene practices and always wear
protective equipment when handling this compound.

- Chronic Health & Toxic Effects: This product has no known chronic
effects. Repeated or prolong exposure to this compound is not known to
aggravate medical conditions.

- Carcinogenicity: This product is not listed by NTP, IARC or regulated
as a Carcinogen by OSHA.

- Routes of Exposure: Eye contact. Ingestion. Inhalation. Skin contact.

- Toxicity Data: Ipr-Rat LD50: 5 gm/kg [ipr=intraperitoneal, LD50 is the
dose required to cause 50% of the rats to die]

Since tungsten has never been linked to cancer, it's unlikely to be the
cause of a leukemia cluster.  The original article also mentioned
arsenic, which is a known carcinogen, but not known to cause leukemia. 
Remember "cancer" is a host of different diseases with different causes
(some genetic, some viral, and some environmental).  The usual
explanation for cancer clusters is random chance--some areas are going
to be higher than average and some areas lower, because that's the
nature of statistical distribution.  This doesn't mean that authorities
shouldn't investigate clusters of cancers that can be caused by the same
agent, but the results are typically indeterminate.

Regarding the weapons issue mentioned by Tom Magness:

Some interesting comparisons: 
  Density of tungsten silicide 9.4 g/cc
  Density of lead 11.3 g/cc
  Density of uranium 19 g/cc
Recall that momentum (an important component of penetrating power)
equals mass times velocity.

Now, what weapon do you want your child/sibling/spouse/parent/neighbor
to have in his or her arsenal as a tank-stopper?  War will be an
environmental disaster, no matter what metal we use in our ammunition. 
It's foolish to risk lives of our military personnel and outcomes of
battles over worries of future contamination, especially when there are
no proved cause-and-effect links of depleted uranium to Gulf War
Syndrome or health effects in the battlefield areas (there are many
different toxic substances released during battle).  It's better to
effectively remove the need for warfare through appropriate foreign
policy and diplomatic efforts, but when you go in to fight, fight to

The opinions expressed are my own.

Susan Gawarecki
Susan L. Gawarecki, Ph.D., Executive Director
Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee
102 Robertsville Road, Suite B, Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Toll free 888-770-3073 ~ www.local-oversight.org

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