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Tungsten Triggers Aggresive Tumours

Last week we were sent a copy of a paper investigating the possible health effects of tungsten. As a super-heavy metal tungsten has been suggested as a possible alternative to DU. Indeed the MoD have already converted their naval PHALANX
Close-in Weapon System to it, apparently because ‘it’s equally effective at its role at less cost’. Presumably because these weapons systems do not need a high level of armour penetration.

The research was undertaken by the US Army Forces Radiobiology Research Institute and found that rats implanted with tungsten alloy pellets, quickly developed highly aggresive tumours. This could make shrapnel wounds potentially fatal.
It was also found to have neurotoxological effects.

Several publications are claiming that tungsten is the ‘environmentally friendly alternative to DU’. Unfortunately this is not really the case. Tungsten is a heavy metal, as such its chemical toxicity is well known. On the plus side it does not vapourise on impact and create a dust like DU, and it is not radioactive. However, describing any weapon as environmentally friendly seems patently bizarre.

What does this mean for the campaign? Well, persuading the politicians and the military to ban DU would be far easier if we could suggest a viable alternative. It is somewhat idealistic to hope that a ban on both DU and tungsten could be pushed through, so until then we shall have to continue with the pragmatic approach. Equally, it is not our job to help the MoD do their research. We are sure we should all be far happier if there were no need for tungsten or DU.

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003