ABSTRACT

Uranium (U) is a naturally occurring element that is found in the Earth’s crust at an average concentration of 0.0004%. This heavy element consist of several isotopes, including 238U (at 99.3% by mass), 235U (at a 0.72% by mass), and 234U (at a 0.006% by mass). In nuclear power plants, the production of electricity is based on the use of 235U. During this process the concentration of 235U is increased such that it can be used as a nuclear fuel. The by-product of this enrichment process is what is known as depleted uranium (DU), containing about 80% less 234U and 70% less 235U than does natural uranium [1]. DU has been used in commercial and in military applications. For example DU has been used as counterweights (flaps) in commercial aircraft, as x-ray shielding in hospitals, and in the manufacturing of a wide range of chemicals. DU exposure in civilian populations could occur in occupational settings or in unusual circumstances such as inhalation following a plane crash through burning aircraft materials [2].