TO THE ROYAL SOCIETY REPORT ON
HEALTH HAZARDS OF DEPLETED URANIUM (DU) MUNITIONS: Part 1.
1.. It is undeniable that this report has arisen from the repeated
concerns of Gulf War Veterans (GWVs) and the Balkan veterans but
immediately the investigation side-steps the issue of the GWVs
the agenda to a general consideration of the health hazards of
involves only calculations for increased risks of cancer.
2.. Other diseases are excluded because the ICRP model only considers
cancer. This is a serious omission since it is recognised that
radiation can cause a variety of other diseases affecting the
nervous system, cardiovascular system, immune, respiratory, digestive
and urinary tracts, skin and reproductive problems, Bertell 1999,
Hooper, 1999, 2000.
3.. The evidence that would question the validity of the modelling
emerge mainly from cancers that develop 10-30 years after the
exposures- with the exception of leukaemia and Doug Rokke's e-mail
details of the cancer deaths among his colleagues involved in
assessment.. This leaves the GWVs in limbo and provides yet a
pretext for inaction by the MOD.
4.. However it is imperative that the records of the GWVs are
scrutinised for leukaemia- deaths and living sick veterans, ie
and incidence. So far from 32 deaths, where the medical records
known to the NGV&FA, there have been 4 cases of leukaemia.
number of deaths is 527. The figures given in the report, 0.25
per 10,000 per annum in the 20-29 age group, equate to 12.5 deaths
leukaemia over 10 years in the 50,000 cohort of GWVs.
5.. The report fails to address the primary issue that GWVs were
possibly deliberately, in an experimental situation that involved
use of DU munitions which were known, since at least 1974, to
associated with major health hazards. I supplied detailed information
the Working Group.
6.. It makes no comment on the fact that no advice was given,
monitoring took place and no surveillance has been provided in
years since the end of the 100 hours war in 1991.
7.. It makes no judgement on what is, at the very least, gross
negligence and at the worst culpable homicide. [In discussion
clear that the Working Group could not understand why no
measurements/investigations had been carried out by the MOD and
it as, at least, some dereliction of duty.]
8.. There is no consideration given to the known facts of UK GWVs
illnesses that are consistent with exposure to ionising radiation-.
9.. There is no consideration of the biology of exposure to radiation.
[Appendix 2 does cover part of this issue and identifies the 'bystander'
effect but regards the evidence in need of strengthening- two
have been missed.]
10.. The recommended further studies do not include the very obvious
need to obtain data from the GWVs and Balkan veterans that will
the extent and possible levels of exposure to DU. It does mention
desirability of autopsy studies and in vivo tests. The latter
advanced technology that is not readily available.
11.. It is already known that members of staff in field hospitals
among those with prolonged contamination with DU. These do not
in the higher risk groups proposed in the arbitrary division of
into three levels, L1, L2, and L3. This raises questions about
validity of such proposals. Indeed the different levels are predicated
on the estimated risks derived from the ICRP models used. It is
12.. The frequent reference to high levels of exposure continues
commitment to the high exposure- soluble-high excretion model
reflects MOD thinking. This is the exact opposite of the model
exposure to insoluble, inhaled DU dust ie. low exposure-insoluble-
immobilised-low excretion rates. The low dose-slow dose effect
identified in 1972 by Petkau found that a 26,000 fold reduction
effectively destroyed cell membranes over 700 minutes compared
minutes for the higher dose. The low dose-slow dose exposure fits
precisely the expected situation faced by GWVs, Busby, 1995, Bertell
1999 for summary.
13.. The ability for DU particles to move long distances and be
re-suspended by light breezes and vehicle and plane movements
situation almost totally unpredictable. Measurements on the Gulf
Balkan veterans will provide reliable data and circumvent many
theoretical suggestions for further research.
14.. There is no reference to the civilians of Iraq or to the
distressing figures emerging for childhood cancers and leukaemias,
defects and low birth weights, and high abortion rates. Recent
have identified 20 anophthalmos cases (babies born without eyes)
a birth cohort of 4000. The natural levels of occurrence of these
cases is 1 in 50 million. The rate is therefore some 250,000 times!
expected rate, De Sutter, 2001.
15.. The civilians in the Balkan States are similarly ignored.
16.. The consideration of Balkan troops is sketchy and provides
reliable information about the level and extent of illnesses that
associated with ionising radiation. Just a bland statement that
leukaemia cases found were not excessive. No evidence is put forward
support this statement and an examination of data available suggests
that excess leukaemia cases were found. [It is essential that
accurate data, numbers and time span for every country whose soldiers
have reported leukaemia cases. From the unconfirmed figures I
received, largely through the press there has been a significant
increase in leukaemia deaths. These may be less that the actual
incidence. Both figures are required.]
commented in an interview with 'Today' programme, BBC Radio
4, January 9th 2001, that DU weapons are "here to stay because
very successful". A further interview on Radio 5 Live included
statement that "the aim [of the Working Group] was to reassure
they are not at risk [from DU]". The report outcome appears
to have been
decided before the Working Group commenced its work. The report
this pre-determined stance.
recognises and recommends the need for much more extensive
studies and also the limitations of the ICRP models used to reach
conclusions, particularly in regard to shrapnel fragments. However,
does not prevent firm conclusions being reached about the very
risks derived by these admittedly insecure calculations. The obvious
conclusion is that there should be, at the very least, a complete
moratorium on these weapons until much more information has been
1.. Key Witnesses are absent-
1.. (Major) Doug Rokke who has played a major part in the both
preparations for the Gulf War and its execution and follow-up.
responsible for the evaluation of and training manuals for many
of DU munitions. [In discussion it was made clear that despite
for information Dr Rokke had not supplied any information. This
the case. In a number of e-mails Dr Rokke gave references to key
material that he stated was in the hands of the MOD. It became
that the MOD had not supplied any documents to the Working Group.
was not clear was whether the specific documents mentioned were
requested. The only document reported in the discussion was that
associated with Paul Musgrove- the MOD were unable to find this
despite searching for it.]
2.. Dr Asaf Durakoviae has carried out investigations into DU
contamination of UK veterans and those from other countries, including
Iraq, and Iraqi civilians. He is the only person to have done
He is listed among those submitting a written response to the
Group but nowhere is there any reference to his published work
field. [In discussion it emerged that Dr Durakoviae had offered
supply documents but only when they had been peer-reviewed and
published. In view of the Working Groups concerns about peer review
is a reasonable and wise decision.]
3.. Dr Pat Horan collaborated with Dr Durakoviae and developed
protocols for testing urine samples in which levels of DU were
accurately and unequivocally determined.
4.. Dr Rosalie Bertell who has worked in this field for many years
specialises in aspects of epidemiology and biological tests- none
these are referred to nor was she asked for evidence.
5.. Dr Hari Sharma who did much of the early work on measuring
urine samples and did the first risk calculations - giving very
different estimates from those in the report. These ranged from
10,500 extra cancers among the UK cohort of 53,000.
6.. Dan Fahey who authored a major report that brought together
information from military manuals that addressed the use of DU
in the field - this is not referenced in the report but supplies
important commentary/correction of the official army reports quoted.
7.. Nothing is said about the leaked AEA Technology report that
500,000 extra cancers over 10 years among the people of Iraq following
the release of 50 tons of DU aerosolised dust.
8.. GWVs were promised by the Chairman that they would be invited
give evidence to the Working Group. This did not happen. The GWVs
angry and disappointed and see this as a betrayal.
a.. The Literature
Referenced is Partial and Incomplete.
1.. Much is made of the of the Rand Report (Harley), OSAGWI reports,
the Institute of Medicine Report (Fulco) and the work of McDiarmid,
various industrial studies and the ICRP papers and models. All
reports from within the establishment. Bernard Rostker, the Head
Pentagon Investigation Unit into Gulf War Syndrome/Illness, was
at the Rand Corporation and commissioned the Rand reports. Harley,
her own admission, never read any of the primary documents concerning
in the Gulf War.
2.. None of these reports, including the IOM report, give any
consideration to the effects of low level radiation.
3.. No reference is given for important papers that show the
well-founded and growing importance of low level radiation, the
and dishonesty in the nuclear industry and its compromised data
Busby, Martell, Bertell, Alvarez, the proposed changes in existing
base derived from the Hiroshima studies, Gofman, the possible
underestimates of key values used in some of the calculations,
significance of studies with small numbers of alpha particles.
from 1997 by Lehnert, and papers from Little, 2000, and Azzam,
indexed in Appendix 2 but not referred to in the main report.
a.. Key Literature
Addressed Briefly or Not at All.
1.. Martell-"Secrecy, budgetary control, and the inherent
interest...have compromised the objective assessment of the most
aspects of radiation-induced cancer and other radiation health
problems." letter from Edward Martell to Hazell O'Leary,
Department of Energy, 9th Feb, 1994.
of information and research programmes by these means has
woven a tissue of deception and misinformation around all things
pertaining to nuclear issues.
is extensively referenced and addresses issues raised in the
present report such as the effects of smoking on lung cancers
references to cardiovascular disease and bone-seeking
nuclides (uranium is bone-seeking).
the importance of 'hot spots' over against whole body and
whole organ calculated exposures- something not considered in
b.. Gofman in his magnum opus raises the issues of maintaining
data bases that remain devoid of bias and the importance of the
of low level radiation. His findings refute "claims by parts
radiation community that very low doses or dose rates may be safe."
In a cri de
coeur he writes in 1979, "There is no way I can justify my
failure to help sound an alarm over these activities many years
than I did. I feel that at least several hundred scientists trained
biomedical aspects of atomic energy -myself included- are candidates
Nuremburg-type trials for crimes against humanity for our gross
negligence and irresponsibility. [But] now we know the hazards
low-level radiation, the crime is not experimentation, but murder."
is a fearful comment on the experiment in the Gulf War of the
use of DU
munitions, for the first time, with troops given no advice, protection,
or subsequent monitoring or surveillance.
c.. Busby has shown how misinformation and a refusal to consider
experimental evidence has led to led to estimates from official
being several hundred times too high.
ICRP risk factors
predicted there would be 1.1 extra cancers over 100
years among the 2.9 million people of Wales as a result of nuclear
fall-out. The number actually found after 10 years was 493. This
represents an error to date of 450 times the predicted value [4500
continued over 100 years] - see Wings of Death, 1995.
In a written
submission to the Working Group, Busby 2001, has also
described the inaccuracy of the linear extrapolations used at
for risk calculations that defies actual experimental observation.
cumulative radiological doses from oxide particles of uranium-238
also given in this submission. These vastly exceed the dose limit
for civilians and workers in the industry but there is no consideration
of this information in the report. This presentation is alluded
not referenced whilst other presentations from the industry are
referred to and referenced.
in a paper posted on the web draws attention to work
published in 1992 and 1994 that includes experimental verification
the Relative Biological Effectiveness, RBE, of 20, used in most
calculations as a weighting factor for alpha particles, can be
higher. In Chinese hamster ovary cells the weighting factor is
as 6000 (Nagasawa and Little, 1992). There is no evidence that
figure has been taken onto account in any of the calculations
that have been presented. He calls for confirmatory studies and
absolute necessity for this large difference to be part of the
and interpretation of epidemiological studies". This has
considered in the modelling or the report.
Papers by Kadim
and co-workers include one on "alpha-particle-induced
chromosomal instability in human bone marrow cells" (Kadim
et al 1994).
The clinical histories of some GWVs include osteoporosis. If evidence
had been taken from the GWVs the importance of this paper would
e.. Hei and colleagues described in 1997 and 1999 "The mutagenic
of a single and exact number of alpha particles" in animal
cells. They showed that a single alpha particle can cause a mutation.
Although the Working Group was made aware of these papers they
given no consideration and are not included in the references.
f.. Iyer and Lehnert described the bystander effect that multiples
effect of radiation, in non-irradiated cells, by 30-fold. This
another multiplier that requires inclusion in any risk assessment
alpha radiation. It is given only passing reference and not included
the references of the main report although there are 3 references
Appendix 2. These authors also provide a convincing scheme for
radiation-induced damage involving free radical mechanisms. This
provides sound grounds for synergistic interactions with other
used in the Gulf War and also good reasons for novel treatment
to counteract such processes. It is consistent with premature
experienced by some GWVs.
g.. Vickers provided comprehensive schemes for the transmission
effects of ionising radiation by biological mechanisms in 1993.
h.. Durakoviae and co-workers, Horan, Dietz, Sharma have studied
and found that even 8 years after the Gulf War some of the sick
excreting DU in their urine. This indicates prolonged internal
contamination with very significant cumulative doses of alpha
radiation almost certainly involving 'hot spots' in the lungs,
nodes and bone. None of this work is referred to or referenced.
i.. Bertell has described a useful blood test that might identify
significant damage from DU. This test provides a useful biological
that could be coupled with the clinical chemistry of DU detection
measurement. This information was provided but not used.
j.. Gong and colleagues have recently described a transferrin
assay test that is claimed to provide a biological marker of life-long
radiological exposure. Such a novel claim requires urgent study
not mentioned in the report. The reference was provided.
k.. Versik-Peuchert has investigated one GWV and found unusual
chromosome breakage patterns which support exposure to ionising
radiation. This is another important biological mechanism that
complementary biological data to go with any evidence of DU exposure.
Again information was provided but was not considered or referenced.
l.. Alvarez responded to an editorial in the British Medical Journal
Melissa McDiarmid which claimed that "Fifty years of occupational
exposure provides little evidence of cancer". This is the
emerges from the Royal Society report in which McDiarmid is frequently
quoted with approval.
Nuclear Policy Studies- draws attention to a major
report prepared at the request of the President of the USA. This
July 1999, includes studies from major USA locations, Oak Ridge
Weapons Plant, K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Tennessee, Fernald
Processing Plant, Linde Air Products Co., NY, and Mallinkrodt
Works, Missouri. Some of these are included in the final appendix
.. found elevated death rates for brain cancer, several
lymphopoetic (immune system) cancers, as well as cancer of the
kidney, and pancreas. Excess death from breast cancer among women
found. ...excess lung cancer was their main finding. (Oakridge).
cancer.among salaried workers (261% higher)..statistically
significant increased death risks .for all cancers (21% higher)..lung
cancer (26% higher).evidence of a radiation-dose relationship
non-malignant respiratory disease and lung cancer. (Fernald)
of the respiratory system, bone cancer, mental disorders and
all respiratory disease including pneumonia. .... increased risk
dying from cancer and chronic nephritis. The latter up by 600%
deaths from the last decade of follow-up was observed. (Tenessee).
risk of dying from all causes (18% higher), laryngeal cancer
(447% higher), all circulatory diseases (18% higher), arteriosclerotic
heart disease (19% higher), all respiratory diseases (52% higher)
pneumonia (217% higher) between 1943 - 9. (Linde).
death rate from all cancers(10% higher). Respiratory
diseases, chronic nephritis/kidney disease (218% higher)..lymphatic
cancers were significantly higher..significant increased risks
cancers of oesophagus (40% higher), rectum (45% higher), pancreas
higher), larynx (36% higher), kidney (34% higher), ..multiple
myeloma/bone marrow (33% higher). (Mallinkrodt).
led "the Department of Energy to officially concede that
....nuclear workers were placed at risk of increased death and
m.. Weinberg et al. very recently reported in the Proceedings
Royal Society that the children of liquidators, born after acute
chronic exposures to radioactive materials released after the
accident showed a sevenfold increase in the number of new chromosomal
bands. "These results indicate that low doses of radiation
multiple changes in the human germline."
n.. McDiarmid reported the presence of DU in sperm as well as
neurocogniticve deficits and cardiovascular problems in the small
of GWVs with embedded DU fragments but this is not brought out
Report or considered.
o.. De Sutter reported huge increases in anophthalmos in a birth
of 4000- see 1n above.
p.. El-Bayoumi summarises several key papers presented at 'Depleted
Uranium Symposium, Baghdad, 1998. Several authors describe large
increases in cancers amongst civilians and Iraqi veterans, low
weights, and large increases in stillbirths and abortions. All
happened after the Gulf War. [It was suggested during discussion
report that these could have arisen from the extensive use of
weapons in the Iran-Iraq war. From the time frame of the reports
1.. Peer Review.
the review, p17, exclude consideration of data from the low
level radiation group on grounds that it lacks rigorous peer review.
However, the Report makes much use of information that has not
rigorously peer reviewed- army reports, presentations to the Working
Group, the Harley report, the IOM report, monographs, etc. Indeed
Report under consideration has not been subject to peer review.
is important but not the only criterion for good science and
has, in some instances, been known to hinder it.
b.. Further studies are imperative but not, primarily, the ones
in the report.
1.. An immediate, extensive and independent study should be made
GWVs and Balkans veterans, or failing that very large numbers
satisfy statistical criteria, by urinanalysis for prolonged
contamination with DU.
2.. There should be similar studies on the civilian populations
exposed to DU in the Iraq, the Balkans, and round DU processing
in the UK.
3.. When the reliability of spot tests, McDiarmid, has been confirmed
all personnel should be tested routinely when they visit these
areas where DU has been fired.
4.. Biological testing should go alongside the urine analysis,
tests outlined above 5.
5.. There should be autopsy and biopsy material obtained from
and any others contaminated with DU to establish the major sites
distribution in the body and to obtain the necessary data to understand
the biokinetics of insoluble DU material.
f.. In vivo tests for DU should be contamination should be made
available as a matter of urgency.
7.. The ICRP models and calculation must be re-assessed in the
the most recent information about low level radiation. Although
Working Group included a 100-fold increase in their calculated
factors this does not even begin to match the huge differences
dose and dose-rates found in many studies- these range from several
hundred to several thousand fold. [In discussion it became clear
the WHO and the European parliament are now seeking an urgent
reconsideration of the ICRP models in the light of information
by the Low Level Radiation Campaign.]
8.. Firing tests under controlled conditions are unlikely to provide
significantly more useful information.
a.. The Big
Picture shows that activities of the whole of the nuclear
industry and its commercial, military and government extensions
unacceptable if the association of increased cancers is found
levels of radiation arising from DU munitions and other sources-
out, releases from nuclear processing plants and power stations.
the end of the nuclear experiment. This unpalatable fact has not
considered in the Report. [In discussion it was stated that the
not sell DU munitions to any other country. This is difficult
but it is thought that up to 41 different countries now have DU
munitions and it is clear from copies of import licences that
manufactured at Springfields in the UK used DU imported from the
b.. BBC Scotland
carried out a brief study of the contamination of
people in three locations in the Balkans recently. Sample collection
analysis were carried out by respected and well-known scientists.
found every one they tested was excreting DU, some in very high
Indeed the camera man who accompanied the crew also tested positive
after just a five days in these countries. This is a remarkable
observation that demands an immediate and more extensive study.
that the movement of DU in the environment is unpredictable and
emphasises the need for direct measurements on these populations.
c.. Of value
in the Report
1.. The recognition that Gulf War Syndrome/Illness is multifactorial.
2.. The modelling of embedded shrapnel cannot be carried out using
existing models. Insoluble, immobilised DU ceramic particles may
this same category.
3.. Synergy of the radiological and toxicological actions of DU.
needs to be extended and include synergy between DU and the other
toxic exposures of the Gulf War-pyridostigmine bromide, vaccines,
pesticides, oil and smoke, and chemical war agents.
4.. The need for autopsy and in vivo measurements of DU.
In a letter to the Independent, 27 Mar 2001 I wrote "Unless
Group requires direct measurements to be made on GWVs it will
another paper exercise, another alibi for not directly addressing
health of the GWVs- in short a cover up." Sadly this has
proved to be the
largely the case. The report in its present form is unacceptable.
a.. What Next?
1.. In the discussions it became clear that the Working Group
revisit this report with great reluctance and felt that their
conclusions on the radiological hazards of DU were beyond any
challenge. I could not disagree more.
2.. Part 2 of the Working Group's study will be concerned with
chemical toxicity of DU. This will divert attention from the importance
of the radiological exposures and it seems will be the only
consideration in civilian exposures since these are not considered
Part 1 of the report. This is clearly a nonsense.
3.. Chemical exposures are not insignificant and possible synergy
between radiological and chemical toxicity needs exploring although
not aware of any studies of this kind at present. It is experimental
data not modelling that is required to address this important
4.. Any consideration of chemical toxicity must start with a thorough
consideration of the many steps taken to deal with lead and other
metals in our environment. In th elight of current regulations
scattering DU over the country side and introducing it into the
food/water chains is not acceptable.
Alvarez R. Risks
to uranium process workers. BMJ eletters 29th Jan 2001
available at http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/322/7279/123
Bertell R. Internal
Bone Seeking Radionuclides and Monocyte Counts.
International Perspectives in Public Health 1993, 9, 21-25.
Bertell R. in
Metal of Dishonor, International Action Center, 1999. ISBN:
0-9656916-0-8. This provides a useful summary with references
manipulaton of cancers risks, the low dose-slow dose discovery
in 1972!, free radical events initiated by radiation in the destruction
cell membranes, and the work of Burlakova on the chernobyl catastrophe.
Busby C. Science
on Trial: On the Biological Effects and Health Risks
following Exposure to Aerosols produced by the use of Depleted
Weapons. Submission to the Royal Society Working Group, 2000-
Busby C. Wings
of Death, Green Audit Books, Aberystwyth, 1995.
De Sutter E.
Too many babies without eyes. Dutch J Med Sci 2001, 145,
Medical effects of internal contamination with uranium.
Croatian Med J 1999, 40, 49-66.
On Depleted Uranium: Gulf War and Balkan Syndrome. Croatian
Medical Journal 2001, 42, 130-4.
Depleted Uranium Symposium Report, Baghdad, December 1998 in
Metal of Dishonor, International Action Center, 1999. ISBN: 0-9656916-0-8.
Evans HJ. Alpha-particle
after effects. Nature 1992, 355, 674-5.
Fahey D. Case
Narrative: Depleted Uranium (DU) Exposures, 1998. Available
at National Gulf War Resource Center, Inc. 1224 M St, NW Washington,
20005, USA. http://www.gulfweb.org/ngwrc This is a comprehensive
documentation of the sources of the information on DU. It is particularly
useful for its references to Military studies which have not been
in the published literature.
Gofman J. Radiation-induced
Cancer from Low-Dose Exposure, Committee for
Nuclear Responsibility, 1990.
Gong JK, Guo
Y, Glomski CA. A lifelong wide-range biodosimeter:
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Hei TK, Wu Li-Jun,
Liu Su-Xian, Vannais D, Wladren CA, Randers-Pehrson G.
Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 1997, 94,
Hooper M. Depleted
Uranium Munitions: New Weapons of indiscriminate and
Mutually assured Destruction. Lecture as part of the United Nations
Celebrations Weekend. Helsinki October 23rd 1999. Available at
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Most Toxic War in Western Military History. Evidence
submitted to the House of Commons Select Defence Committee, December
Published in 7th Report of Defence Select Committee. Gulf Veterans'
Illnesses. Report and proceedings of the Committee with Minutes
Evidence and Appendices, April 19th 2000.
Iyer R and Lehnert
BE. Radiation-induced Effects in Unirradiated Cells.
Science and Medicine 2000, Jan/Feb, 54-63.
Kadim MA, Lorimore
SA, Hepburn MD, Goodhead DT, Buckle VJ, Wright EG.
Alpha-particle-induced chromosomal instability in human bone marrow
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Kadim MA, Macdonald
DA, Goodhead DT, Lorimore SA, Marsden SJ, Wright EG.
Transmission of chromosomal instability after plutonium (alpha)-particle
irradiation. Nature 1992, 355, 738-780.
The effects of alpha particles on chromosomal alterations.
Available at http://www.foe.arc.net.au/kohnlein/kohnpaper4.html
Martell E. letter
to Hazell O'Leary, US Secretary Department of Energy,
9th Feb, 1994, available at http://www.aracnet.com/~pdxavets/martell1.htm
Little JB. Induction of sister chromatid exchanges by
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Korol AB, Kirzhner VM, Avivi A, Fahima T, Nevo E, Shapiro
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14th June 2001