Thursday, April 13, 2006

 

Dancing with Uranium Gas

Literally.

Dancers perform as they hold capsules of uranium hexaflouride, or UF6 gas during a ceremony in Mashhad, Iran’s holiest city, Tuesday, April 11, 2006. In a nationally televised speech, Ahmadinejad called on the West "not to cause an everlasting hatred in the hearts of Iranians" by trying to force Iran to abandon uranium enrichment.


Is dancing with UF6 safe?

According to Wikipedia, it forms solid grey crystals at standard temperature and pressure (STP), is highly toxic, reacts violently with water and is corrosive to most metals. According to Argonne National Lab, in addition to being radioactive, released UF6 can have toxic chemical effects (primarily on the kidneys) if it enters the bloodstream by means of ingestion or inhalation. HF is an extremely corrosive gas that can damage the lungs and cause death if inhaled at high enough concentrations. According to the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, UF6 is one of the most highly soluble industrial uranium compounds and, when airborne, hydrolyzes immediately on contact with water to form hydrofluoric acid (HF). Thus, an inhalation exposure to UF6 is actually an inhalation exposure to a mixture of fluorides. The HF component may produce pulmonary irritation, corrosion, or edema, and the uranium component may produce renal injury.

Be it resolved, therefore, that dancing with uranium hexaflouride is not generally advised.

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