Hazards of uranium

The main hazards of uranium are fire, toxicity, and radioactivity. Uranium in larger chunks ignites at 500 deg C, while in finer form it self-ignites and burns spontaneously in the air. Heavy metal uranium forms oxides that are as toxic as arsenic compounds, particularly affecting the renal system. Inhaling and swallowing a high dose of uranium oxides entering nose and throat could pose a serious risk, as could happen in an acute exposure to explosion dust and debris from a uranium weapon. Prolonged exposure in a contaminated environment would lead to similar effects.
As in the toxic hazard, radioactive risks arise by inhaling uranium dust in the air and ingesting it from dust in the mouth, water, or food. Inhaled particles under 2.5 m enter deep into the lungs. The body removes insoluble uranium oxides very slowly, halving their amount in 10 to 20 years. Some particles may move from the lung to the lymph nodes and bone. U-23...