Living In the Shadow of DU: about depleted uranium

Depleted uranium (DU) is a radioactive substance forged from the toxic waste produced by civilian nuclear power plants and military nuclear weapons programs. Due to its high density, it is commonly used in the exterior armor of certain tanks and fighting vehicles and in munitions called penetrators. When a DU penetrator strikes its target, it ignites, and up to 40% of its mass can be reduced into fine, radioactive particles which can be easily inhaled.

According to a 1998 report done by the US Agency for Toxic Substances the symptoms related to inhaling DU dust particles include: fatigue, shortness of breath, lymphatic problems, bronchial complaints, weight loss, bleeding, and unsteady gait. The British Royal Society has also stated that inhaling a substantial amount of DU could lead to kidney damage and lung cancer.

The U.N. reported that NATO aircraft fired 31,000 rounds of toxic depleted uranium at Serbian tanks in Kosovo, which has exposed local populations, aid workers, and K-For troops to a known health hazard. Cases of cancer in peacekeeping troops stationed in the Balkans were reported in Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Turkey and at least six Italian peacekeepers, who were stationed in Kosovo, have since died of leukemia. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the official U.S. and British positions are still that depleted uranium munitions do not pose serious health or environmental hazards and that there is no scientific evidence which proves otherwise.

graphic credit: Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU)

More on DU:

For an excellent review of depleted uranium, its history, how it has been used in a variety of weapons and the multitude of health problems it causes, and further links see: "Depleted Uranium: The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War", by Leuren Moret in World Affairs The Journal of International Issues, July 2004
Read the full article at:

The 1 April 2004 (#788) issue of Rachel's Environment & Health News is a well-researched report on the origins and dangers of depleted uranium:

Depleted Uranium Weapons of War:

"Uranium is a naturally-occurring element that is both weakly radioactive and a toxic heavy metal. Naturally-occurring uranium contains two main radioactive isotopes: U-238 (99.3%), and U-235 (0.7%). When uranium is "enriched" to make an A-bomb (which requires lots of U-235), the leftover "depleted uranium" (DU) is 99.8% U-238 and retains about 60% of the radioactivity that was present in the original natural uranium..."
read the rull report at: