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Depleted Uranium to Blame for Iraq’s Cancer Problem?

Posted on Aug 27, 2007
depleted uranium shell

Is it just a coincidence that an unusually large number of American troops and Iraqi civilians are suffering from what appears to be a cancer epidemic? Iraq’s environment minister and a growing number of victims, scientists and even politicians say the widespread use of depleted uranium in U.S. munitions is to blame.

Arizona Daily Star:

The prime suspect in all this, in the minds of many victims—and some scientists—is what’s known as depleted uranium—the radioactive chemical prized by the military for its ability to penetrate armored vehicles. When munitions explode, the substance hits the air as fine dust, easily inhaled.

Last month, the Iraqi environment minister blamed the tons of the chemical dropped during the war’s “shock and awe” campaign for a surge of cancer cases across the country.

However, the Pentagon and U.S. State Department strongly deny this, citing four studies, including one by the World Health Organization, that found levels in war zones not harmful to civilians or soldiers. A U.N. Environmental Program study concurs, but only if spent munitions are cleared away.

Returning solders have said that isn’t happening.

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By Demitri, January 10, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

IF DUI does not cause cancer then why is it that the cancer rate in areas bombed by DWI weapons is 200 to 300 time higher?  How do do you explain that to the world?

The US official explanation: A UFO caused it…

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By CounterConToo, August 30, 2007 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment

My question is this: how can DU be depleted when Uranium 238, the natural element found on Earth, has a half-life of ~ 4.46 billion years which is the approximate age of the Earth itself? If I understand this correctly, it indicates that the natural stuff can only be half as deadly at this archeological age. Uranium 235, the hot stuff they use, halves its radioactive potency in about 700 million years. Other trace nuclides of Uranium take between 250,000 yrs. to 23 million years to decay to half potency. Since the military-scientific complex has only been working with Uranium since WWII (~60yrs) then Depleted Uranium (DU) is one of the biggest misnomers going! A very, very dangerous one.

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By ocjim, August 28, 2007 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

General sources on DU consider it harmless. But studies where DU is actually used in combat situations are entirely different. A higher incidence of cancer among Iraqis from the first Gulf War talk of 100 to 1000 times more radiation. The second problem involves the residue after the DU shell hits a target. The cancer can easily be associated with areas where DU shells were used including Bosnia.

DU shell holes in the vehicles along the Highway of Death are 1,000 times more radioactive than background radiation, according to Geiger counter readings done for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer by Dr. Khajak Vartaanian, a nuclear medicine expert from the Iraq Department of Radiation Protection in Basra, and Col. Amal Kassim of the Iraqi navy.

The desert around the vehicles was 100 times more radioactive than background radiation; Basra, a city of 1 million people, some 125 miles away, registered only slightly above background radiation level.

But the radioactivity is only one concern about DU munitions.

A second, potentially more serious hazard is created when a DU round hits its target. As much as 70 percent of the projectile can burn up on impact, creating a firestorm of ceramic DU oxide particles. The residue of this firestorm is an extremely fine ceramic uranium dust that can be spread by the wind, inhaled and absorbed into the human body and absorbed by plants and animals, becoming part of the food chain.

Once lodged in the soil, the munitions can pollute the environment and create up to a hundredfold increase in uranium levels in ground water, according to the U.N. Environmental Program.

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By boggs, August 28, 2007 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

The bleeding heart anti-war liberals have been hollering since the first day we went into Iraq, that we would be responsible not only for hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, but for the cancer and illnesses that would follow the complete saturation of their soil with DU from our “Shock and Awe” campaign.
Did all these cutesy terms come from a sick mind or what?
We also managed to infest their soils with cluster bombs so we could leave them with a gift that just keeps on giving.

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By jfior, August 28, 2007 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

DU is not new to the US military as far as I can tell…I recall years ago..possibly early 2000, where Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! was discussing this with people making similar claims about sickness in Iraq post-Iraq war one (it is saddening to type such a thing)...I’m pretty sure no one cleaned up after themselves since we didn’t occupy the country….it is quite sad how history is ignored and how scientific inquiry is stifled and sequestered for the “greater good”

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By It hurts, August 28, 2007 at 6:39 am Link to this comment
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The cancer is the US!

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By Lawrence, August 28, 2007 at 1:33 am Link to this comment
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One of the biggest reason why we will never hear an admission of there being a correlation is simply that the military doesn’t have the money to pay all the lawsuits that would result.
They will reject any internal studies admitting a correlation, and will likely not allow outside organizations to conduct proper studies, citing some sort of classified situation regarding the “technology.”

One of the best things about the US is our system of tort laws that allow us to sue someone who has wronged us; even the military is not immune from such laws, and so they have to obfuscate, confuse and deny.

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By 1drees, August 27, 2007 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment
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UNFORTUNATELY, the invasion of IRAQ has so far consumed atleast 3000 tonnes of Depleted Uranium. and according to studies when this round comes in contact with resistance it sort of burns or disintegrates into particles of about 0.1 micron whereas the masks supplied to the US SOLDIERS can block particles of upto 0.5 micron, so that was basically no protection really. ALSO the SERVICE PEOPLE that cleaned up various sites have said that they felt some severe symptoms within a couple of hours of exposure to the DU environment and according to them after their return they were refused the relative tests and treatment. so cant say much about that.
Although the Soldiers were informed as to what it was BUT they were told its HARMLESS BUT the general IRAQIs had no clue what so ever as to what to expect or what was going on, till it was definately too late. WINDS can blow particles of 0.1 micron to places you cannot imagine. Its extremely poisonous in the sense that it will cause cancers and as already observed mutations such as enlarged head, or missing limbs or other very known effects of RADIATION POISONNING.
BUT its not just that after it is fired that it disperses radiation, since its always radioactive even when the guy in the BRADLEY or APACHE is sitting maybe too close to them waiting to fire them away, most probably all opertors are being exposed to radiation as I HAVE NOT HEARD OF ANY AMMO SHEILDING in the bradley or other attack crafts coz they only have armour or sheilding on the outside.
According to studies this DU will remain active till the next 4.5 bilion years. so it will keep killing in that area for that duration.
In 2006 an IRAQI doctor, in her statement to the Congress, did point all that out (see video on site ), BUT THE OFFICIAL response was that its “Consumed Uranium” that has lost its powers (in the Nuclear Reactor) despite the fact that GEIGER COUNTERS go absolutely NUTS in most places of IRAQ, especially the graveyards of TANKS and the surrounding areas.
So in the face of all the facts known, its absolutely mindboggling as to what needs to be done or should have been done. This poison has killed many already and thousands more to come, ON BOTH SIDES of the WAR. BTW its not just against TANKS it was used but actually its being used in several large calibre munitions which are even fired on houses etc as per need.
REMINDS ME, what a wonderful world!

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By Outraged, August 27, 2007 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment

Quote from article:
“However, the Pentagon and U.S. State Department strongly deny this, citing four studies, including one by the World Health Organization, that found levels in war zones not harmful to civilians or soldiers.

I’m guessing that the Arizona Daily Star may have experienced a “typo”.  I think quite possibly when they said “strongly” that it should have read “WRONGLY”.

BTW, Welcome back QuyTran!  The truth will not be denied.

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By Enemy of State, August 27, 2007 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

I suspect that the DU (Depleted Uranium) is only a small part of the cause. Other pollutants, such as smoke from battle situations, and car bombs etc, probably has some pretty negative effects as well. Add in the severe stress, and for the Iraqis indoor confinement, and poor food supplies, and there are lots of other things that could be contributing to this spike. This doesn’t mean we should be using DU rounds in Iraq -or Afghanistan. DU rounds are meant for armor piercing. I don’t see any enemy tanks in either theatre, so we really have no excuse to be using these.

  We will only really know if a proper epidemiologic study can be made. That is likely for American servicemen, but for the Iraqi population it is hard to concieve of the security situation improving to the point where a proper study could be conducted.

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By farmertx, August 27, 2007 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment

Just another case of oops, we didn’t think of that.
Rummy, Wolfboy and Tommy Franks among many other’s can really be proud of how they ducked (sic) things up.
As for the American soldier’s, I wonder what the long term care cost’s for them will be. Not to minimize the shortened life span.
But, Shrub will tell you, They are soldier’s. They knew there’d be risks.
Ahh, that explains why he dodged the draft.

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By QuyTran, August 27, 2007 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

The Vietnam’s war “orange agent” is now appeared in Iraq. A new victory of Bush/Cheney administration. Their families will surely have to pay for this debt through the law of cause and effect during the generations to come !

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