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Depleted Uranium Toxicity, Accumulation, and Uptake in Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda) and Aristida purpurea (Purple Threeawn)


Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG) in western Arizona is a testing range where Depleted uranium (DU) penetrators have been historically fired. A portion of the fired DU penetrators are being managed under controlled conditions by leaving them in place. The widespread use of DU in armor-penetrating weapons has raised environmental and human health concerns. The present study is focused on the onsite management approach and on the potential interactions with plants local to YPG. A 30 day study was conducted to assess the toxicity of DU corrosion products (e.g., schoepite and meta-schoepite) in two grass species that are native to YPG, Bermuda (Cynodon dactylon) and Purple Threeawn (Aristida purpurea). In addition, the ability for plants to uptake DU was studied. The results of this study show a much lower threshold for biomass toxicity and higher plant concentrations, particularly in the roots than shoots, compared to previous studies.

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Permission was granted by the Chief of Engineers to publish this material. The experiments and data presented, unless otherwise noted, were obtained from research conducted under the U.S. Army’s Environmental Quality Technology Program (Dr. E. Ferguson, Technical Director). Citation and trade names used in this manuscript does not constitute an official endorsement of or approval of the use of such commercial products. The authors would like to thank Drs. Catherine Thomas and Jacob Stanley for their technical reviews.

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Correspondence to Afrachanna D. Butler.

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Butler, A.D., Wynter, M., Medina, V.F. et al. Depleted Uranium Toxicity, Accumulation, and Uptake in Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda) and Aristida purpurea (Purple Threeawn). Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 96, 714–719 (2016).

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  • Depleted uranium
  • Phyto-toxicity
  • Phyto-uptake
  • Translocation
  • Bioconcentration