Depleted Uranium is a low level radiation hazard
This page (first posted long before Gulf War 2) is a summary;
links to other pages are at the bottom.

Note October 2006: When we first addressed this topic the focus was very much on depleted Uranium. It now seems that political embarrassment has pushed the military towards concealing the tell-tale fingerprint of DU by using undepleted or even enriched Uranium. The green movement has to be discriminating in its use of these terms, in order to deprive apologists for Uranium weapons of a way of confusing the debate.
The pre-existing contents of this site have not been altered to accommodate the shift in practice and the pages should be read with these caveats in mind.
WDU: Since 2006 we are using the term Weapons-derived Uranium (WDU) to refer to exposures arising from use of weapons containing any class of Uranium.

LLRC does not support the campaign for a ban on Uranium weapons. Calling for a ban has the fundamental weakness of suggesting that they are not already illegal.


350 tonnes of DU were fired in the Gulf War, since when 80,000 personnel have been suffering from various mystery illnesses.

The population of Iraq, in the years following the war have developed the same illnesses and in addition the rates of cancer and birth deformities have increased enormously.

monstrously 
	deformed Iraqi baby (14KB): photo by Karen Robinson Iraqi baby, a victim of DU, born with no nose, mouth, eyes, anus or genitals and with flipper limbs, a common result of radiation exposure in utero. Photo by Karen Robinson
NATO's use of DU in the Balkans has now given rise to the same complaints

Various unpersuasive explanations have been advanced for ‘Gulf-War Syndrome’; they range from side effects of vaccines against nerve and biological agents to pesticides or oil-well fires. It has, though, been fairly clear from quite early on that we are dealing with the usual spectrum of diseases related to radiation exposure. The question that is almost never asked is how Uranium-238, generally believed to be of little radiological significance, can have caused such profound effects.

Uranium is a very reactive metal, easily oxidising to U3O8 and UO2. A single 120mm Abrams tank DU shell contains 3kg of U-238 (111MBq of activity) and there is 275g (10.1MBq) in a 30mm GAU-8A A-10 Thunderbolt cannon shell. These ‘penetrators’ explode on impact, with up to 80% conversion to tiny long-lived glassy beads of Uranium Oxide from <1 micron to 5 microns diameter.

These ‘hot particles’ can travel for very large distances, even hundreds of miles, under the influence of wind, fire and are easily resuspended. The smaller particles can easily pass through the lung into the blood and lymphatic system.

The Low Level Radiation Campaign began working on DU issues in 1999.
The following page summarises what we have done,
with links to other pages.


If you are seeing this page full screen (i.e. without a navigation bar on the left) you can't see how the rest of the site is organised.
This Home page link takes you to the index page, which has links to all the topics we discuss on the site [only use it if this page is full screen]
Use the Depleted Uranium button to see what else we have to say on this topic.

This page was last updated May 2001