2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: loc@icx.net
Date: 31 Jan 2002 14:56:08 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: RE: [CPEO-MEF] DU Munitions
Ted Henry has made a couple of incorrect assertions regarding my 
previous post, consequently I feel obliged to respond.  If any of you
have already written to me calling me "PsyOps" or "baby killer," no need 
to repeat it.

I agree that the toxicity of DU is more of a concern than its  
radiological properties.  As I recall, that's what I said in the
original message.  There is agreement among health physicists that DU
would cause a toxic reaction in the kidneys long before you received
sufficient radiological dose to cause cancer.  That's why it would be a 
lousy dirty radiological bomb.

The recent DU literature, for example the EU study previously cited and 
the Rand study, point to no significant health affects attributable to 
DU.  Monitoring of veterans with DU shrapnel fragments in their bodies 
show no harm from it, from either a toxic or radiological perspective.

I'm not familiar with the Deitz study you cite, but I've seen data from 
field studies in the Balkans that show DU doesn't disperse far from the 
point of impact and is nearly impossible to re-suspend with wind--it's 
an extraordinarily heavy element.  Uranium oxide isn't very soluble, 
either.  By the way there is no "DU ore"--there is uranium ore, which 
has relatively more of the quite radioactive U-235, the isotope that has 
been removed from "depleted" uranium.  Natural uranium is a common trace 
element in many rocks and is relatively more concentrated in certain 
rock formations and their derived soils.

The Department of Energy has good data from the people who worked in the 
uranium enrichment plants.  These workers had exposures to more
radioactive forms of uranium FAR IN EXCESS of US soldiers and civilians 
in war zones.  Rates of cancer are only slightly elevated over the 
general populations--certainly not at the levels to suggest that the 
less radioactive DU would be a significant hazard.

I really don't care to argue about this much more.  So many of the
responses I've seen say, "I'm not a scientist, but..."  I'm sure you are 
all well-meaning, but I AM a scientist.  I've taken two semesters of 
health physics to round out A PhD in geology and a ten-year background 
with hands-on experience cleaning up hazardous waste sites.  I consult 
with health physicists on a regular basis and follow their often 
esoteric arguments about relative risks of different types of 
radioactive exposure.  If your information all comes from anti-DU or 
anti-nuclear sources, then you are not getting the correct story.  All I 
have ever suggested is that readers broaden their horizons and talk to 
experts who have done significant research in the field.  Maybe when you 
see where the preponderance of evidence is, you will choose to devote 
your energies to a more productive cause.

Susan Gawarecki

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