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I'd like to invite you all to browse our web site, Depleted Uranium 
Watch, http://www.du-watch.org

Here is our latest article.


2nd March 2001  Depleted Uranium Watch

Medical Consequences of Depleted Uranium 
Dr. Helen Caldicott 

On October 30, 1943 senior Manhattan Project
scientists – the S-1 Executive Committee on the "Use
of Radioactive Materials as a Military Weapon" – in a
letter to General Leslie Groves, postulated that the
inhalation of uranium would be followed by "bronchial
irritation coming on in a few hours to a few
days….Beta emitting products could get into the
gastrointestinal tract from polluted water, or food,
or air. From the air, they would get on the mucus of
the nose, throat bronchi, etc. The stomach, caecum and
rectum, where contents remain for longer periods than
elsewhere would be most likely affected. It is
conceivable that ulcers and perforations of the gut
followed by death could be produced…" And so on. 

They could have been describing some of the acute
medical affects experienced by the Gulf War veterans
after they were exposed to depleted uranium, DU, now
littering the former battlefields of the Gulf War and
the Balkans – and in fact they were, although DU has
half the
radioactivity of natural uranium as described above. 

DU is actually uranium 238, what's left after the
fissionable element uranium 235 is extracted from the
ore and used as fuel for weapons and nuclear reactors.
700,000 tons of this discarded radioactive material
accumulated over the last 60 years throughout the
United States until the American military discovered
that it was valuable. Almost twice as dense as lead,
it sliced through the armor of tanks like a hot knife
through butter. As it was free and plentiful, DU
bullets and shells would be cheap to make. But uranium
238 has dangerous properties. It is pyrophoric,
bursting into flames when it hits tanks at great
speed. The fire oxidizes the uranium, and up to 70% is
converted into microscopic aerosolized particles to be
inhaled into the small air passage of the lung where
it can reside for many years. 

Because radioactive uranium 238 and its decay products
are both alpha and beta emitters, as a carcinogen it
can damage cells in the lung, bone, kidney, prostate,
gut and brain causing cancer in those organs, as found
in a 1999 review of US uranium workers conducted by
the Department of Energy. Following inhalation it is
solubilized and transferred from the lung to other
organs, including liver, fat and muscle. Eventually it
is excreted through the kidney where, because it is a
heavy metal, it induces nephritis, a chronic kidney
disease. Studies of Gulf War veterans find they are
excreting uranium 238 in their urine and semen. It has
been estimated that some 300,000 US veterans have been
exposed to inhaled DU. 

Children in Iraq – where over 300 tons of DU in spent
shells and aerosolized powder was left behind by the
Allies – are reported to have a higher than normal
incidence of malignancies and congenital
malformations. Similar reports come from Bosnian and
Kosovo hospitals, while some studies of children of
American veterans seem to show a higher than normal
incidence of congenital disease. 

The US Department of Energy recently admitted that
contaminated uranium reprocessed from military
reactors had been mixed with the "pure" DU at the
Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant in Paducah, Kentucky.
This contaminated uranium contains traces of
neptunium, plutonium and uranium 236 – elements which
are thousands of times more carcinogenic than the

Uranium 238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years,
while neptunium 237 and plutonium 239 which are many
times more carcinogenic than uranium, have half lives
of some hundreds of thousands of years. Therefore,
Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia and Kosovo are contaminated with
carcinogenic radioactive elements forever. And because
the latent period of carcinogenesis – the incubation
time for malignancy, ranges from 5 to 60 years, it is
almost certain that malignancies reported in the NATO
troops and peacekeepers who served in the Balkans and
the American soldiers and their allies who served in
the Gulf, as well as civilians who live in these
countries, are just the tip of the iceberg.  

References: British & European Press 
Pentagon documents 
Cancer data from uranium workers in US facilities 

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