Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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A Quick Guide to the three National Academy of Science Publications on DU

In CADU News 29 we refer to there being several publications concerned with DU during 2008 by the National Academy of Science in the US. As we have taken a while to work out which is which, we thought we'd put together a quick quide to save you the bother.

All of these reports are available as free pdf downloads on the National Academies Press Website - all you need to do is create a logon and sign in.

  • Review of Toxicologic and Radiologic Risks to Military Personnel from Exposure to Depleted Uranium During and After Combat (link) - by the National Research Council's Committee on Toxicology. This is actually a review of a separte report called the Capstone Report, an assessment of DU risks produced by the US Department of Defence (DOD) in 2004. The review following the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 which called for a comprehensive study into the Health Effects of DU. While this publication is very detailed, it misses out several peer-reviewed studies which indicate the harmful effects of DU. ICBUW's detailed initial response outlines these criticisms, and a short primer on the report was also prepared for UN seminar in October 2008.

  • Gulf War and Health: Updated Literature Review of Depleted Uranium (link) - by the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Gulf War and Health. This is a follow-up to a report in 2000 by the same committee, itself prompted by a 1998 law. As there has been so much new evidence in the last 8 years, the committee was asked to look again at the evidence and update the linterature review. It goes systematically through a number of health problems and for each one concludes that there is 'inadequate/insufficient evidence' to conclude whether it could be linked withuranium exposure. This is actually a roll back from the position of the 2000 literature review which concluded that there was some evidence that there was no link between uranium exposure below 200 millisieverts and lung cancer, or with between uranium exposure and kidney problems.

  • Epidemiologic Studies of Veterans Exposed to Depleted Uranium: Feasibility and Design Issues (link) - also by the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Gulf War and Health. Following on from the literature review, and the The National Defense Authorization Act, this report was requested by the DOD to assess the possibilities of designing the kind of comprehensive study the act called for. The report concludes that none of the US government's programmes or studies are suitable for making a clear assessment of the risks, and also that the number of veterans available is insufficient for a well designed epidemiological study. It does not address the question of whether civillian populations who have been exposed to DU may offer sufficient numbers for such a study. There is an overview of this report in the documents presented to the ICBUW UN seminar.

It is debatable how much these three weighty volumes add to the debate. As so often with DU, the focus on the exposure of military personnel is an obstacle to better understanding. What is missing is detailed research in DU-affected countries. If anything, these three reports - totalling 514 pages altogether - merely serve to underline the scientific uncertainty and make the case for the precautionary principle at the heart of our campaign. There is enough evidence of the potential dangers that it cannot be conscienable to risk exposing anyone to it.

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Page last updated: 31 October, 2008