Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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Second Part of the Royal Society Report into DU

On the 18th March the Royal Society released the second part of their report into the health effects of DU. In 2001 The Royal Society published a report on the radiological hazards of the heavy metal, that even despite finding that troops in a tank who survived being hit by a DU shell could double their risk of dying from lung cancer, was heavily criticised for its flawed data and inadequate assessment of risk. This second report concentrates on the chemical and long-term environmental risks. The report points out there are still many "uncertainties" in research into the health and environmental effects of Depleted Uranium and that much future research needs to be done to ascertain long-term risks. Although its findings will be of no surprise to those who have followed the campaign against DU the report goes much further in admitting that there are significant health effects both to those immediately exposed to DU and to the present and future generations of people living in areas exposed to DU contamination. However there are still significant omissions from the report that suggest there is still not a concerted will to reveal the real damage that DU munitions pose.
Among the findings of the report is evidence that short and long term damage to the kidney function is possible through DU exposure including cases where "Kidney uranium levels in some of these soldiers could be very high and would probably lead to kidney failure within a few days of exposure," Respiratory damage is also a consequence of exposure and it admits evidence that DU can cause damage to genetic resources, DNA and reproductive health. There will be long term exposure to those returning to areas where DU has been deployed, including through contaminated food and water supplies and over time with leakage into the environment "the proportion of exposure from intakes of DU from contaminated water sources will increase."
The report makes a number of recommendations including long-term epidemiological studies in those exposed, the need for long-term environmental sampling, and that "the Localized areas of DU contamination provide a risk, particularly to young children, and areas should be cleared of visible penetrators and DU contamination removed from areas around known penetrator impacts."
Given the extremely alarming nature of these findings it would be commonsense that these recommendations should be implemented immediately. Yet despite reporting these consequences of DU use the Royal Society report concludes that even for soldiers on the battlefield exposure levels would be too low to generally have any "adverse effect" on any organ. Dr Chris Busby of the Low Level Radiation Campaign made a series of suggestions to the report's draft copy all of which were ignored in the final copy which have led him to conclude that "there was no real intention to research the area except in ways that were guaranteed not to find anything." Similarly Malcolm Hooper, Chief Medical advisor to the British Gulf War Veterans argues, "This is an attempt to give a scientific imprimatur to the stance of the government, which is unacceptable". The question is how much health and environmental damage has to be "proved" before the risks of DU use is taken seriously by the political and military establishment!

The report is available at

CADU has prepared a response to the second part of the Royal Society report.

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From CADU News 10: Spring 2002

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003