The Use of Radioactive Materials in Military Weapons

The use of radioactive metal uranium-238, depleted uranium in military weapons systems such as armor-piercing bullets, bombing casings, tank shielding, counterweights, and penetrators on missiles, and in cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines, and other anti-
personnel weapons (dirt bomb) has been identified as definitive contaminant to the environment and as tremendous health risks to human health. Its etiological role in the genesis of what has been dubbed as a Gulf War disease has been the subject of sustained controversy since the end of the first Gulf war. Numerous scientific and epidemiological studies have shown evidence of both chemical and radiological toxic properties of uranium isotopes in the environment in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf, and the Middle East, and also in the bodies of the veterans who were deployed to those areas.

Scientific and medical research findings has confirmed what has been clearly determined throughout two decades of research that exposure to radioactive waste of the isotopic enrichment of natural uranium is hazardous to human health and the environment. Furthermore, medical findings from the quantitative analysis of depleted uranium isotopes in British, Canadian and U.S. Gulf War veterans by Horan, Dietz and Durakovic (2002) showed depleted uranium isotopes detection in British, Canadian, and American veterans as long as nine years after inhalation exposure to radioactive dusts.

Durakovic, Dietz and Zimmerman’s (2003)environmental exposure analysis study in Afghanistan districts that were heavily bombarded during the war documented the discovery of more than 350 metric tons of depleted uranium deposited in the environment, and 3-6 million grams of depleted uranium aerosol released into the atmosphere. Durakovic and his team of medical nuclear physicists also conducted an experimental analysis to determine depleted uranium health exposure factors in civilian populations in area that were heavily bombarded by the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces during the Afghanistan war. They wanted to determine whether the symptoms they discovered in veterans in the Gulf War Syndrome were the same as the symptoms present in those populations.

Durakovic and his team collected urine samples from 24 symptomatic subjects.The team divided the study population into two groups: control and experimental subjects. The control subjects were selected among the symptom-free residents in the non-targeted areas and the experimental groups were selected from districts that were heavily bombarded during the war. All the samples collected from the 24 experimental subjects were analyzed for the concentration and ratio of four uranium isotopes using multi-collector, inductively coupled plasma ionization mass spectrometry. The analysis of the findings from the team’s study revealed uranium concentration up to 200 times higher in the experimental groups who were bombardment free.

Various documentary materials in newspaper and magazine articles, together with internet reports of testimonials presented in Congressional hearings by ill Gulf War veterans and their family members have indicated that exposure to depleted uranium and other potentially toxic substances pose a risk to human health. There is convincing epidemiological and scientific evidence to indicate a causal relationship between depleted uranium exposure and many of the strange and undiagnosed illnesses Gulf War veterans and civilian populations in the Gulf are experiencing many years after the end of the Gulf war.

My book entitled “DEPLETED URANIUM ON HUMAN HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT” utilizes a naturalistic approach to provide new insights, meaning and description as it seeks to illustrate, understand and interpret or explain about the day-to-day life experiences and structures from the perspectives of the Gulf War veterans.

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