Tungsten may not be the best shot for making 'green' bullets

April 6, 2011

With efforts underway to ban lead-based ammunition as a potential health and environmental hazard, scientists are reporting new evidence that a prime alternative material for bullets — tungsten — may not be a good substitute The report, which found that tungsten accumulates in major structures of the immune system in animals, appears in ACS' journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

Jose Centeno and colleagues explain that alloys have been introduced as a replacement for lead in bullets and other munitions. It resulted from concern that lead from spent ammunition could harm wildlife when it dissolves into water in the soil, streams, and lakes. Scientists thought that tungsten was relatively non-toxic, and a "green" replacement for lead. Recent studies suggested otherwise, and with small amounts of tungsten also used in some artificial hips and knees, Centeno's group decided to gather further information on tungsten.

They added small amounts of a tungsten compound to the drinking water of laboratory mice, used as surrogates for people in such research, and examined the organs and tissues to see exactly where tungsten ended up. The highest concentrations of tungsten were in the spleen, one of the main components of the , and the bones, the center or "marrow" of which is the initial source of all the cells of the immune system. Further research, they say, will be needed to determine what effects, if any, tungsten may have on functioning of the immune system.

Explore further: Study finds link between metals and cancer

Related Stories

Study finds link between metals and cancer

April 28, 2006

Researchers studying the effects of arsenic and tungsten on pregnant mice may have found a clue to the development of leukemia in 17 children in Fallon, Nev.

New Ways to Use Biomass

September 22, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Alternatives to fossil fuels and natural gas as carbon sources and fuel are in demand. Biomass could play a more significant part in the future. Researchers in the USA and China have now developed a new catalyst ...

Dissoluble fishing line an eco-friendly success

February 21, 2011

At first glance, it's just looks like plain old fishing line - but the strong filament is actually a technological innovation made of special plastic that dissolves into carbon dioxide and water through the work of microorganisms ...

Recommended for you

Findings illuminate animal evolution in protein function

July 27, 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond researchers recently teamed up to explore the inner workings of cells and shed light on the 400–600 million years of evolution between humans and early animals ...

New polymer able to store energy at higher temperatures

July 30, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at the Pennsylvania State University has created a new polymer that is able to store energy at higher temperatures than conventional polymers without breaking down. In their paper published ...

How to look for a few good catalysts

July 30, 2015

Two key physical phenomena take place at the surfaces of materials: catalysis and wetting. A catalyst enhances the rate of chemical reactions; wetting refers to how liquids spread across a surface.

Yarn from slaughterhouse waste

July 29, 2015

ETH researchers have developed a yarn from ordinary gelatine that has good qualities similar to those of merino wool fibers. Now they are working on making the yarn even more water resistant.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2011
Ok so which is worse? lead or tungsten? There is no zero risk alternative.
2 / 5 (2) Apr 06, 2011
Sure there is, and it's been used before. Iron. About as close to zero risk as possible short of using rocks. It would just need to have some research into a way to make it soft enough to mushroom and deliver all of its energy instead of passing through its target (which is what it was used for) and engage the rifling. Ceramics might be another alternative but whoever the idiot was that thought Tungsten was a viable alternative should get the Darwin award.
not rated yet Apr 07, 2011
A more viable "green" alternative - stop producing bullets...
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2011
I had to read that headline three times... really... I guess the new motto can be "Killing Green!". "After Pacifing the local population I always hate all the lead left lying around."
3 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2011
Oh and Next up making using plutonium might not be the best for making green nuclear bombs.
not rated yet Apr 10, 2011
The only 'green' purpose of a bullet is to turn living tissue into fertilizer. The good or bad of this 'environmental' purpose depends on who is pulling the trigger and why.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.