Depleted uranium (DU) is natural uranium leftover after most of the U-235 isotope has been removed, such as that used as fuel in nuclear power plants. DU possesses about 60 percent of the radioactivity of natural uranium; it is a radiation hazard primarily if internalized, such as in shrapnel, contaminated wounds, and inhalation. In addition to its radioactivity, DU has some chemical toxicity related to being a heavy metal (similar to lead).
Veterans who are identified by the Department of Defense (DoD) or have concerns about possible DU exposure are eligible for a DU evaluation. VA maintains two registries for Veterans possibly exposed to depleted uranium. The first is for Veterans who served in the Gulf War, including Operation Iraqi Freedom. The second is for Veterans who served elsewhere, including Bosnia and Afghanistan.