LLRC Journal Radioactive Times. Vol.4 No 2

Radioactive Times. Vol.4 No 2

DU and MEDACT

In October 1999 LLRC was asked to take an interest in a DU symposium organised by the doctors' network MEDACT because, not for the last time, the panel of speakers looked unbalanced.

Bullshit baffles brains

NRPB's Michael Clark explained what DU is, telling the audience that there was DU in his teeth - it used to be added to fillings to make them gleam - and a lump of it in his brief case - he had brought a standard DU source used for testing instruments. He did not mention the hazard posed by the tiny insoluble beads of Uranium oxide which are created when DU rounds hit hard targets. A large proportion of such particles are small enough to be inhaled and pass easily through the lung wall. This is a quick route to the lymph system - the heart of our immune defences. Earlier reports in RaT have described this mechanism, with a table of the resulting doses to the lymph nodes. It is no surprise to LLRC that Gulf War veterans report that many of their comrades have died of leukaemia and related illnesses since being exposed to DU from burning tanks in the desert.

Undismayed, Clarke played a scintillation counter over his standard source to show that it was giving off a piffling amount of radiation (This is the noise you'd get from cosmic rays in a plane at 3000 feet he said - the usual bogus comparison of alpha and gamma rays) Meanwhile LLRC's delegate mused on how that quiet room at the top of the British Medical Association headquarters would look in the aftermath of an experiment to fire Clark's teeth at supersonic velocity into his lump of DU.

The next speaker - Professor Behar, from a cancer hospital in Paris and European vice President of IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War - to which MEDACT is affiliated), did at least realise that someone had to address the issue of Uranium Oxide particles in the lung. He showed slides of white blood cells breaking down particles of Uranium Peroxide (UO4) over a period of a couple of days. This, he said, demonstrated that Uranium would be cleared from the lungs quickly. LLRC later pointed out that there are several forms of Uranium Oxide, some of which are very insoluble.

But UO4 is highly reactive, LLRC said, And there isn't enough oxygen in the atmosphere to create it on the battlefield. Behar was just trying to pull the wool over MEDACT's eyes

Richard Guthrie, from Sussex University, threw doubt on the allegations that high cancer rates in Iraq since 1991 were caused by depleted Uranium. Other factors like Saddam Hussein's own chemical weapons and the smoke from burning oil wells were more likely causes, he said.

Returning to the vital topic of how long Uranium remains in the lung Guthrie said that a five year study in which rats, dogs and monkeys had been made to inhale Uranium dust had shown no impact on their health.

LLRC pointed out that he had only cited Part 1 of the study. Part 2 shows the animals dying like flies, says LLRC's Richard Bramhall. Their bronchial lymph nodes were 14% pure Uranium and some of them had lung lesions so massive they could hardly breathe.

Nothing more has been heard of the MEDACT inquiry, but the organisation's official policy is to oppose DU weapons.

We now hear that the European Parliament's Justice and Human Rights Committee is looking into the consequences of DU. Maybe they will take the robust position this war crime demands.

In February LLRC sent the Royal Society panel copies of its submissions to the MEDACT inquiry. They are on this site at www.llrc.org/medact.htm and www.llrc.org/medact2.htm

LLRC's presentation to the Royal Society panel will be published as a Green Audit Occasional Paper.


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