Potential Health Effects
In the areas
where depleted uranium was used in southern Iraq, a number of serious
health problems have emerged among both soldiers and civilians.
There are also large numbers of soldiers who served in the Gulf with Allied forces and in the Iraqi army, who are now suffering from mysterious illnesses - often referred to as Gulf War syndrome. Many of these illnesses reflect those seen among Iraqi children and civilians. For example, of the 697,000 US troops who served in the Gulf, over 90,000 have reported medical problems. There are also defects reported among their newborn children. In a veterans community in Mississippi, 67% of the children were born with malformations.
although we can point to these facts and statistics in relation
to the use of depleted uranium, it is impossible to prove a
causal link. Just as it is impossible for scientists to
prove a causal link between the leukaemia clusters around Sellafield
nuclear power station, and radioactivity released from the plant.
It is not scientifically possible to categorically state that
depleted uranium has caused any particular illness in any person
- certainly, in relation to the Gulf War, there were many other
'compounding' factors - other toxics present which could be
linked to illnesses.
other heavy metals, depleted uranium is chemically toxic:
it causes chemical poisoning of the body, particularly to
kidneys and tubules.
they can be stopped by a piece of paper they are sometimes
considered less dangerous than beta (which need a centimetre
of aluminium to stop it.) or gamma (which need several feet
of lead to stop it), but that is only when they are outside
of the body. As the Low Level Radiation Campaign and
other scientists have proved, an alpha source next to living
tissue can severely damage the DNA in the nucleus of the cell,
cause mutations and later cancers. On its way from the lungs
to the bladder the depleted uranium spends time in the blood
and could get lodged in a capillary or tissue anywhere in
the body and cause cancer there. This is why depleted uranium
is so dangerous if it is in the body: particularly if it stays
there for many years.
Uranium can pass the placenta causing congenital malformation and can be carried to the infant in mothers milk. It can damage the ovum and sperm causing genetic damage.
Therefore, when we look at the properties of depleted uranium, the effects it could have on the body, and compare this with the medical problems among depleted uranium workers, Gulf veterans, Iraqi civilians and so on, we cannot rule out depleted uranium as one of the causes.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Read more articles about The Gulf War Veterans
Page last updated: January 28, 2003