The military began substituting tungsten (left) for lead cores in bullets after 1999.

Tungsten May Not be Best Material for 'Green' Bullets

Researchers added small amounts of tungsten to the drinking water of laboratory mice and found that the material concentrated in their spleen and bones.

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. To see the full article, click on the title: “Tissue Distribution of Tungsten in Mice Following Oral Exposure to Sodium Tungstate.”

Jose Centeno, who works at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and colleagues explain that tungsten 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 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 immune system, 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.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Naval Health Research Center Detachment — Environmental Health Effects Laboratory.

Source: American Chemical Society

Download Center

  • Your Guide to Environmental Metrics that Drive Performance

    Translating sustainability into action starts with implementing the right metrics to assess your environmental risk and performance. Learn how to design metrics that improve your decision-making process and drive enterprise performance.

  • Unpacking ESG: 6 Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask

    Environmental and Sustainability experts from Arcadis and Cority answer 6 of the most pressing questions EHS professionals have about getting started with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

  • Streamline Your Air Emissions Management

    See how consolidating all your emissions management functions into one centralized system can help you streamline your operations, more easily maintain compliance, and achieve greater time and cost savings.

  • A Crash Course in Creating the Right Environmental Scoring System

    Learn how to develop the right environmental scoring system so you can easily benchmark performance across all your facilities and gain a holistic view of your environmental programs.

  • Industry Safe