Latest Issue of Science News


Tungsten-alloy shrapnel might cause cancer

An alloy containing tungsten, cobalt, and nickel turns wounds cancerous within a few months, a test in rats shows. The finding raises questions about the current military practice by many countries of using this alloy in bullets and other ammunition as a replacement for uranium and lead.

Biochemist John F. Kalinich of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., and his colleagues surgically embedded pellets of the alloy, which is 91 percent tungsten, into the animals' leg muscles. Separate groups of rats received pellets made predominantly of nickel or tantalum, a heavy metal.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.