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Now, a research team in Scotland has established that common fungi can grow on and chemically lock away the offending uranium. As their hyphal filaments sprawled across fragments of depleted uranium, the tubules gradually became coated in a yellowy mineral.
This, it turned out, locked the uranium into a chemical form inaccessible to biological organisms, and unlikely to dissolve into surface waters.
At twice the density of lead, depleted uranium is added to weapons to give them extra force to penetrate targets. But the complete fallout from exploding missiles is impossible to collect physically. This means that hazardous radioactive uranium-235 in the material, which can cause kidney toxicity and has been linked with nerve damage and lung cancer, can persist in the environment for decades.