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.

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6 comments

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apex01
5 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2011
Ok so which is worse? lead or tungsten? There is no zero risk alternative.
Moebius
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.
Cynical1
not rated yet Apr 07, 2011
A more viable "green" alternative - stop producing bullets...
bloodyanarch
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."
bloodyanarch
3 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2011
Oh and Next up making using plutonium might not be the best for making green nuclear bombs.
rgwalther
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.

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