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[cdn-nucl-l] Depleted uranium poses no risk to troops
Posted in the Miami Herald on April 14, 2003 and at:
"The reality of depleted uranium use is that as tank armor, it keeps
Americans alive, and as anti-tank weapons, it ends battles quickly."
See more at:
Depleted uranium poses no risk to troops
David Weintraub's March 31 Otherviews column, Servicemen's health in danger,
misrepresented the risks of depleted uranium use to friendly forces and
Weintraub quotes some disturbing statistics, but without comparison data
they carry little meaning. For example, almost 10,000 Gulf War veterans have
died since Operation Desert Storm, but their rate of death and causes of
death are equal to service members of that period who did not deploy; and
that rate is 40 percent lower than a comparable civilian population. The
rate of Gulf War veterans getting service-connected benefits is comparable
to service members who did not deploy, and the medical problems are similar
in both groups.
We recognize that Gulf War veterans report medically undiagnosed symptoms
twice as often as veterans from that era who did not deploy, but extensive
research has found no causal link between their health concerns and depleted
uranium. Weintraub quotes former Army Lt. Rokke, who was attached for duty
to assist civilian contract-disposal experts from the Army Munitions and
Chemical Command in the recovery and decontamination of radioactive material
and equipment. His role was to facilitate the recovery operations.
The Department of Defense has compiled a list of 29 people Rokke reported to
be on ''his team.'' Two have died. In interviews with the others, neither of
the two was named as having worked with depleted uranium. Weintraub quotes
Rokke as saying that when DU is inhaled, it wreaks havoc in the body, but it
is highly unlikely that depleted uranium could be responsible for the health
problems of veterans.
Since 1993, the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been
monitoring about 70 Gulf War veterans involved in friendly-fire incidents
involving DU. All inhaled more depleted uranium dust inside vehicles struck
by friendly fire than anyone who simply worked with the vehicles afterward.
Twenty members of this group still have DU fragments in their bodies and
have higher-than-normal levels of uranium in their urine.
Medical evaluations of this group show no evidence of adverse health effects
consistent with the chemical properties of uranium. Tests of their kidney
function have been normal. The reproductive health of this group appears to
be normal in that babies fathered by these veterans between 1991 and 1997
had no birth defects.
More than 50 years of published scientific studies have not shown any
evidence that cancers, leukemia or birth defects can be linked to exposure
to uranium. The Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry said in its 1999 Toxicological Profile for
Uranium, ``No human cancer of any type has ever been seen as a result of
exposure to natural or depleted uranium.''
The reality of depleted uranium use is that as tank armor, it keeps
Americans alive, and as anti-tank weapons, it ends battles quickly.
Assistant Secretary of Defense