Friday, June 12, 2009

Utah Concerned about DU, but not the Pentagon

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

( - A June 12, 2009 editorial by the Salt Lake City Tribune editorial board, entitled
Depleted Uranium: State Board Should Slam the Door, identifies the long-term risks of depleted uranium (DU), which the State of Utah is being asked to accept for long-term storage.

Part of the controversy lies in questions regarding whether the State would be making environmental regulations more strict than those propagated by the federal government, which is currently prohibited by federal law.

The editorial notes that DU "is dangerous for many millennia."

However, the Pentagon continues to find DU an important element in its defense arsenal.

A 2007 DoD-commissioned RAND study on DU asserted that, "researchers reported
neither adverse renal [kidney, where DU is believed to settle] effects attributable to DU nor any adverse health effects related to DU radiation."

However, an Institute of Medicine report on DU issued in 2000 was inconclusive, leaving several important questions about the potential impact on human health as unanswerable given the available scientific data.

Yet, DoD fully downplays any potential health effects from DU in its current Fact Sheet, Depleted Uranium (DU) For Servicemembers and Families. In addition to selectively quoting two aging reports released in 1999 and 2001, the Fact Sheet describes uranium as, "a common heavy metal that each of us is exposed to routinely; that, "Many independent studies and investigations have found that radiation from DU does not pose a significant health risk;" and that, "Service members who have inhaled DU particles or who have retained DU fragments in their bodies have shown no long-term health effects."

The Pentagon's Fact Sheet for military servicemembers and their families does not include references to more recent research, such as that cited in a full chapter of the November 2008 comprehen
sive review of the scientific literature related to Gulf War veterans' health, exposures, and outcomes, entitled, Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans: Scientific Findings and Recommendations, issued by the Congressionally chartered federal Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesss, which found:
Meanwhile, Utahians continue to publicly air their concerns about accepting the radioactive, toxic waste for storage in their state, and some 1991 Gulf War veterans continue to have concerns about DU as a potential cause of current and future illnesses and disease.

"Low-level exposure to spent DU munitions and dust is thought to have been widespread during the Gulf War and was most prominent among ground troops in forward locations. Recent animal studies have demonstrated acute effects of soluble forms of DU on the brain and behavior, but persistent effects of short term, low-dose exposures like those encountered by the majority of Gulf War veterans have only minimally been assessed. There is little information from Gulf War or other human studies concerning chronic symptomatic illness in relation to DU or uranium exposure. Exposure to DU in post-Gulf War deployments, including current conflicts in the Middle East, has not been associated with widespread multisymptom illness. This suggests that exposure to DU munitions is not likely a primary cause of Gulf War illness. Questions remain about long-term health effects of higherdose exposures to DU, however, particularly in relation to other health outcomes." (p. 8)

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