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Norwegian Study Finds no Health Damage to Soldiers From DU Ammunition

A study of Norwegian peacekeepers that was released in May this year indicated that exposure to DU ammunition had not increased their risk of cancer.
The inquiry was prompted by European concerns over the use by U.S. aircraft of DU armor-piercing munitions during the 78-day air campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999, as well as in Bosnia in 1994/5.

The Norwegian Supreme Defense Command offered health checks for former peacekeepers in January 2001. It also asked nearly 20,000 veterans who had served as peacekeepers between 1990 and 2001 to fill out comprehensive questionnaires about their health. In line with other groups that have studied the issue, the command said it found nothing to indicate that Norwegian peacekeepers who had served aboard were at greater risk of cancer than other soldiers.

“The study does not give a basis for saying depleted uranium increases the danger of cancer. Such materials do not emit more radiation than normal background radiation,” said Maj. Gen. Leif Sverre Rosen, head of the military medical corps.
The study will form the basis of a new national register the military intends to use for a long-term follow up of soldiers’ health.

NATO denies the ammunition could have triggered cancer in soldiers and many European Union and other experts have concluded over the last year that the risk was negligible.

CADU welcomes the fact that in Norway, veterans are given the option of a DU health check, but would question how the tests for DU were carried out. The fact that Maj Gen Rosen is still saying that DU is no more dangerous than background radiation shows a lack of understanding about how low-level radiation can affect health.

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From CADU News 11: Summer 2002

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003