UNEP to Study Environmental and Health Effects of DU in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
At the request of the government of, a team of experts from the United Nations Environment Programme is investigating 12 sites in the country that may have been targeted by depleted uranium ordnance (DU) during the Bosnian conflict in 1994 and 1995.
The assessment mission is headed by Pekka Haavisto, the former Finnish environment minister who has led war damage assessment teams in the Balkans, and most recently in the Palestinian Territories.
"UNEP's aim is to determine whether the use of depleted uranium during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina may pose health or environmental risks - either now or in the future," said Haavisto.
"Previous studies of DU in Kosovo and Serbia recommended that governments and civilians take precautionary action to avoid contact with DU," he said.
The team will take soil, water, air and vegetation samples at six sites that have been identified by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as having been struck by DU weapons. They will examine six other sites that local residents believe may have also been targeted.
At the request of the local authorities, the medical sub-team, led by an expert from the World Health Organization (WHO), will examine data on cancer rates in the main urban centres of Sarajevo and Banja Luka. They will also visit a local hospital in Bratunac to meet with the local medical workers and with patients who may have been exposed to DU during the conflict.
The mission is being funded by the governments of Italy and Switzerland.
The samples being collected will be analysed in detail for radioactivity and toxicity in the Spiez Laboratory, in Italy's National Environmental Protection Agency lab, and at Bristol University. The report is due to be published in March 2003.
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Page last updated: June 16, 2005