Depleted Uranium And The Iraq War’s Legacy Of Cancer

Depleted uranium was used in Iraq warzone weaponry, and now kids are playing in contaminated fields and the spent weapons are being sold as scrap metal.
By @FrederickReese |
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    IRaq uranium

    An infant born with severe deformities in Fallujah Iraq, allegedly due to the heavy use of depleted uranium by US forces (Image from documentary “Beyond Treason”)

    As instability in Iraq is forcing the United States to consider a third invasion of the Middle Eastern nation, the consequences of the first two invasions are coming into focus. For large sectors of the Iraqi population, American intervention has led to sharp spikes in the rates of congenital birth defects, premature births, miscarriages and leukemia cases.

    According to Iraqi government statistics, the rate of cancer in the country has skyrocketed from 40 per 100,000 people prior to the First Gulf War in 1991, to 800 per 100,000 in 1995, to at least 1,600 per 100,000 in 2005.

    The culprit behind all of these health issues is depleted uranium, a byproduct of uranium enrichment. With a mass fraction a third of what fissile uranium would have, depleted uranium emits less alpha radiation — up to 60 percent less than natural uranium, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. This “relative” safety offered a rationale for many nations — particularly, the U.S. — to put the waste material to use.

    As depleted uranium is 1.67 times denser than lead, a depleted uranium projectile can be smaller than an equivalent lead projectile but produce similar results. This smaller size means a smaller diameter, less aerodynamic drag and a smaller area of impact, meaning that depleted uranium bullets can travel faster and inflict more pressure on impact, causing deeper penetration. Additionally, depleted uranium is incendiary and self-sharpening, making depleted uranium ideal for anti-tank ammunition. It is also used as armor plating for much of America’s tank fleet.

    The problem with using depleted uranium, however, lies in the fact that depleted uranium is mostly de-energized. In practical terms, depleted uranium can have — at a minimum — 40 percent the radioactivity of natural uranium with a half-life that can be measured in millennia (between 703 million to 4.468 billion years). While the depleted uranium presents little to no risk to health via radiation due to its relatively weak radioactivity, direct internal contact with the heavy metal can have chemical toxicity effects on the nervous system, liver, heart and kidneys, with DNA mutations and RNA transcription errors being reported in the case of depleted uranium dust being absorbed in vitro.

    While depleted uranium is not as toxic as other heavy metals, such as mercury or lead, pronounced toxicity is still possible through repeated or chronic exposure.


    The politics of depleted uranium

    With the Iraqi government currently crippled by the insurgency efforts of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — a group requesting that it be known simply as “the Caliphate” or “the Islamic State,” reflecting its perceived lack of challenge to its claims — and with the U.S. and the United Kingdom holding to the stance that depleted uranium presents no direct threat to Iraqi civilians, there is no active effort to properly dispose of the material.

    As little information on the dangers of the material has been shared with the Iraqi people, depleted uranium and depleted uranium-tainted metals are regularly sold for scrap metal and re-used for any numbers of purposes — including machinery parts, cookery implements and home furnishings. Children play in depleted uranium-contaminated fields, which presents a heightened risk of unintentional ingestion due to hand-to-mouth activity. Abandoned vehicles salvaged for metal present a particularly high risk, as depleted uranium dust could accumulate from depleted uranium munitions, without access to an active airflow to dissipate it.

    This lack of shared information may be intentional, though. The U.S. and the U.K. are actively blocking or opposing a binding international response to or study of the use of depleted uranium in warzones. Citing previous studies from the World Health Organization, NATO and the International Atomic Energy Agency, France, the U.S. and the U.K. — the world’s primary users of military-grade depleted uranium — argue that future studies are unnecessary and are being requested in a bid to ultimately hold the U.S. and its primary allies responsible for a health situation in Iraq that may have nothing to do with those countries. This, despite the fact that the studies cited by the U.S., the U.K. and France in their rebuttal did not look into the health implications of depleted uranium exposure, but simply depleted uranium radiation.

    Depleted uranium is commonly used in the civilian market — from the triggering sensor in smoke detectors to a colorant used in dental porcelain. As it is weakly-radioactive, the radiation exposure danger of the metal does not typically exceed the ambient radiation normally present at sea level. It is believed that it would take more than 200 years for the radioactivity from a piece of depleted uranium to penetrate a person’s skin if that person was grasping the metal in his bare hand. This, however, does not mitigate or dismiss risk the metal poses to internal organs.


    A known problem

    However, according to Wim Zwijnenburg, policy advisor for security and disarmament for PAX, a Dutch pro-peace organization, and author of the paper “Laid to Waste: Depleted uranium contaminated military scrap in Iraq,” the U.S. is aware of the dangers of depleted uranium because the country has spent millions safeguarding its bases and military personnel from it.

    As of 1999, military regulations on how to deal with vehicles contaminated with depleted uranium have been implemented, and in 2005, the General Accounting Office alleged that the Department of Defense was not monitoring the soil in Iraq to ascertain exposure to hazardous materials by American service members. At the time, however, a number of states, Congress members and military service organizations were actively challenging the Defense Department’s assertions that depleted uranium had minimal effect on the lives of the Iraq War veterans claiming depleted uranium poisoning.

    “In regards to the U.S. responsibility for the depleted uranium, the Iraqi government has been put under pressure by the U.S. government not to publish too much information about it or to speculate on what it thinks has happened and to limit government resources to this issue,” Zwijnenburg told MintPress News, “as the Iraqi government still receives a lot of support from the U.S. government. Additionally, the Iraqi government does not want to scare off investment, particularly in the south, such as oil investors who may be scared off with talk of depleted uranium contamination.

    “Also, the Saddam Hussein regime used depleted uranium use as a propaganda tool against the U.S. So, there is a generation of Iraqis that — in large portions — believe that the Americans gave them these diseases, including cancer. While there is an increase in the rise of cancer in Iraq, it cannot be easily attributed to [depleted uranium] use. However, the difficulty in studying the effects leave the issue in contention.”


    Heavy metal America

    The U.S. has suffered from its own heavy metal contamination crisis. Steve Fetter, professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and co-author of the paper “The Hazard Posed by Depleted Uranium Munitions,” suggested to MintPress an analogous comparison to the use of depleted uranium in Iraq in order to highlight the danger of the depleted uranium.

    From the 1920s to the mid-1970s, tetraethyl lead was added to gasoline to boost octane and increase fuel economy. The problem is that tetraethyl lead is toxic. The patent holders knew it was toxic, but used it anyway, despite the fact that ethanol was widely available at the time and was also known to be an octane booster.

    The choice between tetraethyl lead and ethanol was a question of profit. At the time, ethanol was commonly distilled in backyard stills and mixed with gasoline to prevent “knocking,” or the misfiring of an engine’s cylinder before the air-gas mixture is properly compressed. As the use of ethanol in gasoline was a known procedure, it was not patentable, and therefore, not controllable.

    As tetraethyl lead had the added benefit of sealing the microwelds used for the cylinder heads of early cars — extending the life of the car — the additive was pushed through. Although, this was done despite the fact that a collaborator on the development of the chemical wrote that “it’s a creeping and malicious poison.” During its first three years of production, eight workers died from lead poisoning at DuPont’s manufacturing plant in Deepwater, New Jersey, and another five died and 45 were hospitalized from the Baywater, New Jersey, Standard Oil plant.

    Despite the known dangers, the Public Health Service ruled that the need for fuel outweighed the danger to people or the environment, and it allowed leaded gasoline to be sold until the Environmental Protection Agency ordered a scheduled phase-out of tetraethyl lead in 1974. Auto manufacturers ultimately backed this move when it was discovered that leaded gasoline clogged catalytic converters.

    During the 50 years of leaded gasoline use, lead concentration in the blood rose 400 percent. As car use is heaviest in urban centers, the inner city and the populations that live there — the poor, blacks, Latinos and migrant populations — experienced the effects of lead toxicity the most. These effects include mental retardation; high blood pressure; neurological issues, including spasms, mood swings, memory loss, tingling and/or numbness in the extremities, muscle weakness and headaches/migraines; miscarriages or premature births; reduced or mutated sperm; and severe bodily pain.

    As lead is naturally-occurring and a stable, non-decomposing element, lead concentration inside the body will not diminish under normal processes. If someone was exposed to lead, then, the effects of the metal could continue to cause harm even after the source had been cut, and for women of child-bearing age, the contamination could be transferred in vitro.

    While comparing the United States’ use of leaded gasoline to Iraq’s depleted uranium is not a perfect analogy — lead is more toxic than uranium, for example, and there is an estimated 440,000 kilograms of depleted uranium in Iraq, compared to over a million tons of lead per year by the time the rollback began — the moral parallels are striking.

    In the aftermath of leaded gasoline — which is still sold in the U.S. for non-consumer automotive uses — the U.S. is still dealing with entire socioeconomic groups affected by lead poisoning. The negative effects have manifested in a host of illnesses and disabilities in the black community and have been pointed to as a likely cause for the spike in criminality in the inner city.

    When looking at the potential of inflicting the same level of hardship on the Iraqis, caution indeed becomes the better part of virtue. While it can be argued that depleted uranium is likely not a threat to the Iraqis, the danger of the chemical should not be dismissed. (It should be noted, too, that early testimony for leaded gasoline similarly suggested that there was no risk to the public.)

    “Contaminated vehicles and fragments of depleted uranium penetrators abandoned on the battlefield represent an ‘attractive nuisance.’ Curious passers-by, both adults and children, will enter the vehicles and thereby be subject to potentially significant levels of uranium exposure from resuspended and ingested aerosols. Fragments of penetrators may be picked up and taken home as souvenirs,” read the conclusion to “The Hazard Posed by Depleted Uranium Munitions.”

    “In the absence of more costly decontamination efforts, we would propose that all [depleted uranium]-contaminated vehicles be filled with concrete and buried and that [depleted uranium] penetrator fragments be picked up and buried as low-level radioactive waste.”

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    • JoBeo

      The US industrial military complex has been using depleted uranium since the 1990 under Bush.
      In this article and interview Dr. Leuren Moret, American geoscientist and international radiation expert, says the whole country of Syria is plagued with radioactive contamination because the United States not only used depleted uranium weaponry, but provided it to terrorists fighting against the Syrian government.

      Since 1990 the US have always been using depleted uranium in Iraq and elsewhere resulting in genetic damage, birth defects, cancer, immune system damage, and other serious health problems. Genocide and depopulation at work big time and nobody knows??

      When you listen to her 7 min. talk in the link above she tells the same uranium used in Iraq and Afghanistan is in the drinking water of LA.

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    • douglas gray

      One little girl in Iraq found a nice, shiny DU projectile and slept with it next to her body for several months. She came down with a highly acute form of leukemia, and died within a few months. Was the DU responsible? Oh no, it couldn’t possibly be!!

    • Graham Swallow

      Uranium atoms (ingested dust) bind to and near DNA, then act (a bit like catalysts) to stop passing cosmic radiation (which usually passes through us). That quantum step emits a beta electron, which charges like a ten-pin bowling ball through the nearby molecules, DNA, RNA, protein or cell material, possibly growing embryo stem cell damage. The uranium atom remains unchanged (it obtains a replacement electron from …) and can do it again.

      • Ryan Chaney

        I don’t think this true. Beta electrons are released during neutron decay to proton. it would not be unchanged. and most cosmic radiation is not photons. Perhaps you have a link to a bit of proof?
        Not sure exactly what you mean by cosmic radiaition.
        defines cosmic radiaition as charged nuclei. “The Earth, and all living things on it, are constantly bombarded by radiation from outside our solar system. This cosmic radiation consists of relativistic particles: positively charged nuclei (ions) from 1 amu protons (about 85% of it) to 26 amu iron nuclei and even beyond. (The high-atomic number particles are called HZE ions.) The energy of this radiation can far exceed that which humans can create, even in the largest particle accelerators (see ultra-high-energy cosmic ray). This radiation interacts in the atmosphere to create secondary radiation that rains down, including x-rays, muons, protons, antiprotons, alpha particles, pions, electrons, positrons, and neutrons.

        • Graham Swallow

          Are X-rays photons? Would kinetic deceleration be another disruptive event (quantum or not) that would effect molecules in close proximity to the U atom? As you say, we are bombarded with a range of radiation from various sources, and it makes sense that the heavy U nucleus would get in their way. Perhaps you have links to studies, that summarises what dos and does not happen, studies that have focussed on this issue, as it does seem plausible, heavy metals, and in common use on the battlefields, converted to aerosols + dust when used, ingested, binding to proteins and DNA.

          • Ryan Chaney

            i apologize for the delay. yes, x-rays are photons. They have no mass, so they have no kinetic energy. Only mass particles can have that and fortunately the majority of cosmic radiation with mass is also charged which means that the magnetic field of earth directs the flow to the poles, hence the northern lights. There are some photons, of various energies. The uranium is causally linked to the heavy metal poisoning seen in battlefields around cities and in farmlands farmland after exposure to specific applications of DU. Those studies were linked earlier. they involved studies which showed the results of firing DU rounds into hard targets, burning DU, the effects of DU in humans ingesting dust, and the correlation of battlefields with child cancers, possibly with soldiers as well. it’s been awhile.

        • Graham Swallow

          X-rays are waves, photons. Microwaves too.
          It only has to do a quantum stop on the heavy U nucleus/large-e-cloud,
          it could originate from cosmic radiation, or nearby rocks, or regional communication towers, or your kitchen, With U atoms attached to your DNA, you are a walking aerial.

          The unborn are not yet walking though. You could demand precision about that too, but it would not help the victims of war crime, if you did (unless that led to more accurate information – but you APPEAR to want more doubt than safety).

    • ElRoi

      This is how the nuclear industry gets to dispose of their waste…for free. The same way the chemical industry gets to dispose of their waste down fracking wells…again for free.

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    • duke6024

      Well written yes just one problem it’s call war Sadam is the culprit also your just writing as if your judge jury verdict

      • Dorothy

        No, it’s called war crime.

        How can Saddam be the culprit when the USA and it’s lackeys attacked Iraq even though Iraq posed no threat to them?
        Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

        • ElRoi

          Dumba** Duke don’t know no stuff about that kind of stuff. He just loves him some good ol’ ‘Murikan! jingoism and that’s all Dumba** Duke needs to know. USA! USA! USA!

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    • Tanechka

      This baby was born in Brasil.Yellow journalism rubbish.

      • Tanechka

        Here is another case here of microcephaly. I saw this same baby pictured in this article about Iraq in another article about these babies in Brasil.

        • scott6789

          this article is from 2014 though…

          • ElRoi

            Please don’t attempt to use logic and reason with jingoistic, corporatist douche bags like Tanechka. She is being paid very well for her non-corporate media astro-turfing efforts on behalf of the nuclear industry. I’m sure those multiple layers of make-up she appears to need to use in order to obscure the fact that she is much older than she would like to admit are very expensive.

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    • Darren MacKay

      Governments will be the Death of Us ALL

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    • steve ramsey

      A decent article, but one that makes the common mistake of overlooking the most likely reason why depleted uranium as a munition is more hazardous than lead, for example; that reason being that, unlike lead, the inherently ultra high-temperature incendiary explosion of the depleted uranium munition impact creates uniquely and infinitesimally small microparticular matter that is, because of its small size, much more capable of crossing human cellular borders, the natural defense of human cells, and inflicting serious, point-blank range internal damage to the genetic content of these cells as a result. Are there any “major” epidemiological studies confirming this almost certain ramification of depleted uranium use in urban areas? No, but therein lies the problem: the countries who use and benefit from the use of depleted uranium are doing everything in their power to suppress the initiation of such studies, largely because this would open them up to legal liability from the long-term, possibly centuries-long damage they have inflicted on the health of the citizens of these countries.

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    • joe

      Bring Bush and Cheney to justice.

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    • l1ttlet3d

      “While the depleted uranium presents little to no risk to health via
      radiation due to its relatively weak radioactivity, direct internal
      contact with the heavy metal can have chemical toxicity effects on the
      nervous system, liver, heart and kidneys, with DNA mutations and RNA
      transcription errors being reported in the case of depleted uranium dust
      being absorbed in vitro.
      While depleted uranium is not as toxic as other heavy metals, such as
      mercury or lead, pronounced toxicity is still possible through repeated
      or chronic exposure.”

      So the radiation is harmless (true) and it’s less toxic than lead (also true).
      One would imagine you’d all be MORE upset if lead projectiles were used?
      Be honest now.

      • Saiful Rimkeit

        Near typical blah, blah, blah to get away from the effects of military and commercial policies carried by the U.S. Soften the blow and blame tactics. Because depleted uranium is “less toxic”, so what. Look at the results of its use. The result on the body being near lead is astoundingly less damaging to the DNA/RNA we carry. Neither use is correct, but you make it seem as if you want to excuse one for the other or both. This is circular logic and using the intro of lead as a red herring in your debate. I am being honest, BTW. I do very much love the Constitutional U.S. and I am not an uber “bring it all down, man” Red Diaper Doper Baby Lefty, like Obama is.
        See depleted Uranium damage here: PDF]Depleted Uranium Weapons and Acute Post-War Health … and Images for depleted uranium effects in Iraq on Google. Don’t Worry (about depleted uranium) Be Happy. Don’t worry, be happy.

        • l1ttlet3d

          The U.S. Army is moving to using copper ammunition to eliminate this toxic effect as yes, the consequences of lead (or uranium) poisoning are terrible.

          That wasn’t the question.

          There is no danger from any radioactivity from depleted uranium and it is less toxic than lead. The health effects of lead ammunition are WORSE than depleted uranium. This isn’t that hard to understand… why the focus on depleted uranium for your moaning? Do you oppose the use of lead ammunition too (as it is in fact worse) and if so why aren’t you complaining about that and are instead complaining about a less harmful less widely used material (uranium)?

        • l1ttlet3d

          I asked you a question, moron.

      • the truth


        • l1ttlet3d

          OK, This should be good.
          Explain to me why I’M the idiot. Let’s see how this goes for you.

          • Ryan Chaney

            the impact of a wooden bullet and a steel surface is going to create heat by compression. the impact of a DU bullet on that same surface will also create heat by compression. the amount of energy converted from kinetic to heat will vary depending on the conditions of impact if the steel is soft the DU round might penetrate right through it and deliver kinetic energy to things behind it. depending on the penetration and the quantity of material involved, the results will vary. The issue with DU is the higher density which allows smaller faster payloads with correspondingly higher energy. the energy involved kicks reactions and processes into a different place. instead of molten drops of bullet deflecting sideways, there is vaporization and incendiary chemical action when the projectile penetrates partway and is halted.

            • l1ttlet3d

              1. Citation requested.
              2. So the use of depleted uranium is fine (when compared to lead), just at lower speeds… CORRECT?
              3. Bullet? BULLET?

              • Ryan Chaney

                are you serious about the citation? those statements are uncontested ballistic physics. No, the speed difference is not the single issue. F=MA is the first cite. Recognize it? the next cite would be the area of a circle. Do you need a proof? You object to the english word “bullet”. Not worth following. When i was working aboard a ship, the captain was always very dickish about calling it a ship. BFD. Would you prefer the french term “balle”? newtonian penetrator is the best description of DU when used against steel.

                • l1ttlet3d

                  1. No citation then. So that claim can be dismissed. Thanks.
                  2. You haven’t addressed question 2. Depleted uranium is not radioactive and is less toxic than lead. So if DU is used at slower or lesser speeds than lead rounds you’re cool with it. RIGHT?
                  3. I’m not aware the US Army have used any DU bullets. You do realise that there’s a difference between a shell, a projectile etc and a bullet, right?

                  • Ryan Chaney

                    yes. I do realize the names of things. You are deliberately making a semantic barrier about the name used for the thing that contains the DU. Perhaps it is sarcasm. you apparently think “moron” is a normal way of greeting strangers, so who knows what you think is normal. the cite of F=MA was sincere. the issue is the higher mass of DU. the issue is the higher difference in acceleration on impact. by using a smaller denser projectile which hits faster, they increase the F applied. the F applied is enough to vaporize and create incendiary conditions. the particular material used also has other traits that lead directly to these issues causing direct genetic harm. I would assume that the most compelling proof would be the biological effect of firing DU into sand, rock,or soil. The actual hits the projectiles made on vehicles or buildings would be the minority of the mass fired into the area, and the “self sharpening” nature of the DU penetrator leads itself particularly well to biological uptake after impact events. If I present this evidence, which particularly hinges on the difference between lead and DU in the F=MA equation that determined the amount of energy supplied to the subsequent mechanical and chemical results, i would actually be duplicating the article. follow the links in the article “heavy metal America” which is the article linked under the heading “Heavy metal in America”. if you do that, you will find a reference to if you read that you’ll find a reference to an american experience roughly the same amount of uranium being released on american soil:

                    • Ryan Chaney

                      the heading “internal exposure” of the details, with citation of the f=MA details. you are asking for citations which are already provided in direct linked documents.

                      • Ryan Chaney

               (same document) under the heading “chemical toxicity” which contained this: “Toxic effects at levels of exposure to uranium lower than those required to

                        cause kidney damage have not been reported. However, there has been much

                        less study of low-dose effects of uranium than for lead. In the case of lead, significant biochemical and neurological effects have been found at blood levels

                        five to ten times smaller than those which cause kidney damage. Thus, we

                        cannot rule out the possibility that significantly lower uranium doses might

                        have adverse, but as yet unrecognized, health effects”

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        i think a key miscalculation of the population statistics used to predict “little cancer” is the fact that they assume a randomly distributed DU penetrator location over X-km square, and a distributed population over the same area. the use and population are not evenly distributed. at all. the population is very much experiencing more cancer. as the article notes, and which you’d find medical proof of if you followed the linked articles.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        for example, it repeatedly asserts the fact that the area of munitions use was large, yet fails to note how many projectiles were fired in a single encounter. the math is suspect imo, they are trying to cover the damage done in a biased mathematical model.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        well, maybe they’re physicists more than biologists. they also explicitly say that the evaluation of biological impact is outside the scope of their research. perhaps someone else will step up and explain that aspect. Radiation is NOT the claimed vector. The claimed vector is heavy metal poisoning.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        moving right along: another originally linked article, with the specific model of “bombardment in small highly populated areas” because that’s what happened. shows the connection between Fallujah and Basra, population centers with a density FAR HIGHER than 50/km2. It was the first link in the article. here’s some recent original research used to determine if problems are immediately noticable in the genetics of those who lived falluja. it is a link to a PDF file.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        You still haven’t answered question 2.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        yes. i am fine with using DU in applications where it isn’t subjected to conditions that vaporize it. you will not likely find that kind of safety margin in a munition, which is why it’s just not smart to do it. it really is strictly the application of uncontrolled munitions impacts that I object to. if it was needed to deliver energy in a manufacturing process, and was carefully used and not left behind to poison generations, it would be ok with me to attempt to use it, learn, and become better stewards of yet another dangerous but useful material. If you use it at slower speeds or in situations where it is not vaporized in free atmosphere in populated areas I am fine with DU. in a boat keel, ballast in a wing, in a smoke detector, it has a vastly lower contamination rate. after all, it’s not the radiation, it is the chemical uptake into biological systems that concentrate in humans. Why did you need a special invitation to read the linked documents in the original document? Have i proven the original contest to your liking? 🙂

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        i don’t understand your confusion. The answer to your second question is already there. twice. Just as the links to the supporting evidence were already there in the original doc. The original contest I entered was proving whether you are an idiot. So far you don’t read well, you don’t digest well, and you present no arguments with proof yourself. You have nothing but name calling. You have missed the elementary physics involved in the interaction that creates vapor from solid metal. If you understand how to boil water, then you can comprehend how to boil depleted uranium. If you recognize boiling, then perhaps you can understand heat, more specifically the latent heat of vaporization. You’ll probably cry for citation, which is already there in the original documents links, if you’d just read to the bottom or follow the in-text links. If you took physics in high school, the textbook would also have it. here it is an online resource: Once you understand why there is a higher terminal velocity (greater mass has more momentum for same aero-drag presented, or smaller projectile with less drag employed in sabot munition) and higher mass (DU is denser than lead) for the DU projectile then you can understand that the total energy delivered by a DU munition is higher by the equation F=MA. This difference in energy is NOT the issue. The issue is that it is enough to vaporize some portion of the penetrator DU when used as a newtonian penetrator. A lead bullet on a hard target does not maintain shape, instead it splatters. The vaporization is the difference that leads to heavy metal uptake. you can see that lead vaporizes EASIER than uranium. Do not be confused or misled. water takes even more energy to heat, but makes a poor bullet, in most conditions. You need to consider the application. To understand why lead splatters and DU penetrates: Uranium is 4 times as hard as lead. Tt has a tensile strength ~42 times higher than lead. If DU was wood, Lead would be jello. That means there are changes in rheology and impact conditions. a lead bullet on a hard target splatters into droplets, not vapor, and does NOT convert much kinetic to heat. the lead bullet is destroyed on impact and fragments which are FAR LARGER than vapor are created, and they still possess kinetic energy (motion). Lead is not great, but as a munition it is not as bad as DU. DU into a hard target is the perfect recipe for DU vapor. This vaporization condition is particularly well met with DU armor sandwiched in layers with other materials. The DU penetrator acts as a newtonian penetrator through the less dense armor layers, then in worst-case-vapor-production is totally stopped by a DU layer, converting the remaining kinetic energy to heat, and vaporizing some fraction of itself in response to the temp spike. whatever health issues in soldiers we’ve seen so far are minuscule because of the fact that very little (none i think, could be wrong…) of the munitions were fired into hard targets that had DU armor, but any conversion to vapor would leave behind residue. And if you miss the hard target and hit sand, limestone (concrete), or granite (bedrock) there is still vaporization because there is still penetration and conversion of kinetic energy to heat then the bullet is stopped.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        “i don’t understand your confusion.”
                        Not surprising.

                        It’s a simple question, buddy. I’ll repeat it for you. Think yes or no. You can elaborate but if you haven’t answered a yes or no question in either the affirmative or negative then (shocker) – you haven’t answered it.

                        “yes. i am fine with using DU in applications where it isn’t subjected to conditions that vaporize it.”
                        And so one would assume you’re against the use of lead in a way that would vaporise it, too? Lead is more toxic than uranium so we’d need to use more DP than lead, correct?
                        IS THIS CORRECT?

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        your simple question is actually 2 separate questions. which would you like answered again?
                        #1) And so one would assume you’re against the use of lead in a way that would vaporise it, too?
                        #2) Lead is more toxic than uranium so we’d need to use more DP than lead, correct?

                        I have answered both already. i tried to anticipate your definition of “use”, but evidently failed.

                        #1) yes. I am against the uses of lead that result in vaporised lead being released to the general atmosphere where farmland or people live.

                        #2) define “use”. In what application are you choosing DU over Lead?

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        “yes. I am against the uses of lead that result in vaporised lead being released to the general atmosphere where farmland or people live.”
                        Well since lead is MORE toxic than uranium and MORE widely used why are you wasting time talking about DU? Surely lead is the far far more serious issue?

                        define “use”
                        Definition 1:

                        “In what application are you choosing DU over Lead?”
                        In any application. Lead is MORE toxic than depleted uranium.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        I think i understand why you don’t understand. You have not put together the facts about the particle size resulting from DU impacts versus the particle sizes of lead bullets with the facts about biological uptake of the two elements. When you understand why they are different, you will understand that the biological uptake of the two elements is very different when used as a munition. You have picked two different poisons and made huge assumptions without knowledge. Neither poison is good. The difference in biological uptake is a result of the difference in surface area between DU dust, and lead splatter. This is consistent with the entire field of chemistry. There are a ton of chemical reactions that are enabled by the material being reduced to dust. Grain silo explosions for one. That is an example of combustion being made possible due to enough surface area of oxidizable material being in contact with air and an ignition source. Another example is the internal combustion engine. When the carburetor+throttle is functioning correctly, the engine does not “flood” because the fuel is a VAPOR not a LIQUID. When it floods, it is for a reason, and all you have to do is wait for the fuel in the cylinder to vaporize and then try again. Flooding alters the amount of surface area available for COMBUSTION and totally changes the SPEED of the REACTION. I am putting the important chemistry words in all caps for you to look up on your own. I agree that Lead is more toxic. Do you agree that vapor is a faster method to biological uptake? Do you understand that it the toxin must be first administered to be toxic? Do you understand that the conditions in lead bullet impacts are such that splatter is formed, not vapor? Do you understand the facts proven in linked documents above that show that varying portions of the DU penetrator used so far are shown to up as vapor depending on the conditions? the overall toxicity would be the product of the rate of uptake with the rate of toxiciy. Though lead is more toxic, the DU dust is more easily ingested.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        “Though lead is more toxic, the DU dust is more easily ingested.”
                        That’s actually a good point! Well done!

                        Why are you focusing just on inhalation of these materials, though? Lead is all through the water table in Iraq because of the quantities used.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        i look for lead in iraq and find zero data supporting your position. where is your proof that it is a problem? Where is some evidence for “Lead is all through the water table in Iraq because of the quantities used.” That is what you claimed. Here is a 2010 water analysis from Baghdad. it indicated no lead issues:

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        Yeah, I must have misread about it being in the water table. The poisoning is coming from surface contact, not the water. My apologies for that error.
                        I’ll restate my question with that correction.

                        Why are you focusing just on inhalation of these materials, though? Toxic exposure to lead is far more common in Iraq because of the quantities used.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        “Toxic exposure to lead is far more common in Iraq because of the quantities used”. You still need to prove that this lead is there from military action. is it in food and field? proof? Citation please and thank you. you have no proof yet, and I have several alternates of how the lead got there. One thing i saw in looking at lead was the connection between generators and air-lead levels. that might be cover for statistically manipulating in-town versus out-of-town, in terms of actually living within the territory that experienced the heavy bombardment (in-town). Or it might legitimately be how the lead got into the humans. Please explain why you think this is lead from munitions. The lead all over the United states, for example, is not from munitions, but from gasoline. if the iraqui population was forced to live from generators after allied forces destroyed their neutral infrastructure like power plants, and that is the specific cause of the lead, then we are not innocent of the fallout are we? Even though it was not our munitions. For an american example: it was hypothermia that killed the people on the trail of tears. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t the US’s fault for putting them there in that situation.

                      • Ryan Chaney

               this is where i found the air-Pb-generator link. please show proof that the Pb is from munitions. That is your entire case in a nutshell. I argue that the major in crease in heavy metal poisoning effects in natal situations being seen as birth defects, miscarriages, and cancers is not from lead alone because the rate of change of the environment suggests a closer link to DU and not to Pb. “We” have been using Lead munitions in the area for since 1920 if you consider the actions of the league of nations. You didn’t respond to my question about “use”. Iasked for your definition, not oxford’s. I asked you what specific applications you were talking about for the “use” of DU for a reason. you replied that “In any application. Lead is MORE toxic than depleted uranium”. That is not true at all, and shows an incredible lack of understanding of biology. You might think you know statistics, but basic physics (f=ma) and basic biology (rate=area x temp) have both eluded your grasp to integrate with new information. That makes me suspect your ability to comprehend statistics. You demonstrate poor memory for details like where you learned your “facts”. You look like a fool when you call your teacher names. I never know where i will learn from next, so i tend to not insult possible teachers. Maybe try that? In the meantime: Show proof that the lead is from munitions. thanks.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        One question first.
                        When I demonstrate to you that lead exposure is a bigger problem you’ll then have to concede that you’re focusing on DU only because it sounds scary to the uneducated, right? You’re saying “There’s DU! Is gonna get you!” as a scare tactic to dishonestly forward your politics.
                        I’m not going to get the data if you’re just going to shift your claim and I get the distinct impression that’s exactly what you’re dishonest enough to do.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        Ted. you are the one who has been repeatedly proven to be wrong/asinine. the semantics of “bullet”. The source of “groundwater” lead. The difference between vapor and splatter. Do whatever you want. If you are wrong, and i can tell, I’ll point it out. That’s all i can promise. If you’re right, I’ll agree. I’m just a guy.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        what i am expecting is that you will post some basic biology text about the relative toxicity of the two materials. Something like acute liver toxicity. That is totally useless. We need proof/model of the specific situation, which for the Iraqi population is DU dust ingestion. Tell me your idea of how they get lead from munitions, and support it. Generic toxicity comparisons on rodents are not useful here.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        You’ve still not answered the question… sigh.
                        When I demonstrate that lead is the bigger problem you’ll concede that you’re dishonestly focusing on DU because it’s scary sounding to the ignorant and matches your politics, correct? You’ll concede your dishonesty. YES OR NO, moron?

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        your unsupported, 5-day old claim is that “lead is a bigger problem”. you are now asking rhetorical questions that depend on your unproven and contested point. “Begging the question” of a further conclusion of your evidence is not presenting your evidence.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        So you’re not prepared to stake your position on this point? Why?

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        because it’s not what we’re talking about. we’re not talking about the general toxicity of the metals. we’re not talking about the relative concentration in the earths crust. such a general claim of “is a bigger problem” is a joke. present evidence.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        “because it’s not what we’re talking about. we’re not talking about the general toxicity of the metals. we’re not talking about the relative concentration in the earths crust”
                        Yeah. I’m not trying to change the scope at all. Nothing I’ve said suggests I’ve attempted to change direction. Nothing. Perhaps you should read more carefully?

                        I’ll ask again. If this point can be demonstrated (the one we’re talking about) then you will concede your position, correct?

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        please state your specific claim. write it out. please. leave nothing to the imagination. Make your claim explicitly in one place. If you do that while presenting the evidence that supports it, that’s grand. Your hypothetical question is a basic example of begging the question, a common logical fallacy. The question is rhetorical, and an answer is not needed to proceed. It is a distraction. You are asking “if point A is proven, will I accept point A?”. The general answer is yes. Now it’s time to prove point A. Technically, that time was 5 days ago.

                      • Alan

                        forget ted, you are wasting brain cells on him. Ive seen him in a few comments now.
                        Claims the straw man card whilst using it himself.
                        Acts dishonestly and claims others to be dishonest.
                        Demands evidence whilst providing none.
                        Tries to trigger emotive responses through derogatory comments.
                        His, favourite animal is a Red Herring.
                        AKA Troll

                      • nikonwilly

                        Thank you for you concise explanation …greatly appreciated Ryan Chaney.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        It’s a simple question.
                        Are you going to concede your position if and when this point is demonstrated?

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        PS – I was correct on the semantics of bullet and made no claim either way about vapour vs splatter.
                        There’s that dishonesty again. You need to watch that.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        Yeah, I must have misread about it being in the water table. The poisoning is coming from surface contact, not the water. My apologies.
                        I’ll restate my question with that correction.

                        Why are you focusing just on inhalation of these materials, though? Toxic exposure to lead is far more common in Iraq because of the quantities used.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        another answer to the same question. your specific question is whether “slower than lead” is enough to make the use DU weapons “safe”. the answer is No. The problem is that unless the impact of every DU penetrator is within conditions of distance and materials, the speed of one situation is wrong for others. the munition would need to have it’s velocity modified for every different target composition or distance. Impossible in combat with current weapon systems. Not impossible to accomplish, but certainly not what we’ve been doing. It was cheap and delivered the damage we liked when used in conventional munitions systems with minimal change in training or tactics.

                      • l1ttlet3d

                        “your specific question is whether “slower than lead” is enough to make the use DU weapons “safe”. the answer is No.”
                        Actually that’s NOT my question, halfwit. The questions I’ve asked are the questions I asked and nothing more.

                        “yes. i am fine with using DU in applications where it isn’t subjected to conditions that vaporize it.”
                        And so one would assume you’re against the use of lead in a way that would vaporise it, too? Lead is more toxic than uranium so we’d need to use more DP than lead, correct?

                        These questions aren’t hard, champ. I know you can do it.

                  • Ryan Chaney

                    here is a biological assay of the chemical poisoning effects of the microscopic particulate DU presented by the use of DU in munitions. This person i don’t know the exsposure he suffered. “What can an otherwise healthy person expect when inhaling the deadly dust? Captain Terry Riordon was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces serving in Gulf War I. He passed away in April 1999 at age 45. Terry left Canada a very fit man who did cross-country skiing and ran in marathons. On his return only two months later he could barely walk.

                    He returned to Canada in February 1991 with documented loss of motor control, chronic fatigue, respiratory difficulties, chest pain, difficulty breathing, sleep problems, short-term memory loss, testicle pain, body pains, aching bones, diarrhea, and depression. After his death, depleted uranium contamination was discovered in his lungs and bones. For eight years he suffered his innumerable ailments and struggled with the military bureaucracy and the system to get proper diagnosis and treatment. He had arranged, upon his death, to bequeath his body to the UMRC. Through his gift, the UMRC was able to obtain conclusive evidence that inhaling fine particles of depleted uranium dust completely destroyed his heath. How many Terry Riordans are out there among the troops being exposed, not to mention Iraqi and Afghan civilians?” this comes from the article has many unlinked citations that i have not investigated, but paints an extraordinary negative picture.

                    • DeceptiSarm

                      In sufficient amounts, if DU is ingested or inhaled it can be harmful because of its chemical toxicity. High concentration could cause kidney damage.” The IAEA concluded that, while depleted uranium is a potential carcinogen, there is no evidence that it has been carcinogenic in humans.
                      Depleted uranium – Wikipedia

                      • DeceptiSarm

                        so you literally need to swallow a couple of the “bullets”, which have smashed themselves into little pieces upon impact.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        this is a claim completely unsubstantiated by any proof. where is your dose/response data for what i assume is going to be extrapolated to a 90kg man? what are you even claiming? Are you saying i’d have to eat 2 DU penetrators to see negative results from radiation? How flammable is the straw, man? Either you misunderstand, or you misrepresent what the point of the problem is. We’re not talking about radiation. Uranium is a heavy metal like chrome or lead. it’s a great bullet, but a poor neighbor. It should be no part of “peace keeping”.

                      • Ryan Chaney

                        And I agree with them. But this is not a claim of carcinogenic toxicity. It is a claim of acute chemical toxicity from the specific circumstance of aerosol and vapor inhalation during combustion on impact for humans who were fired AT. It is ALSO a chemical toxicity claim from the residual particles left over after the aerosols and vapors condensed or settled into the surrounding soils. Both topics are ongoing investigations to see just how bad it is.

      • DeceptiSarm

        I was just going to say I don’t think these folks know what “depleted” means… and there’s a gentleman about who says that it binds to DNA, I would love to see the scientific paper describing that reaction.
        This whole post is bunk, yellow journalism scaring up the non-scientific among us.

    • Barry

      People need to know that the best way to remove mercury, lead and other heavy metals from the body is with the natural mineral called zeolite that has been proven to safely remove mercury and all heavy metals from the body! For more information on this detox, do a search for the single word Zeolite.

      • Saiful Rimkeit

        Thank you very much. Have you forwarded your message to the health divisions of countries which have been affected by the depleted uranium poisoning in Europe and the Middle East? That would help them very much.

    • naked truth

      Amazing what a Christian (Bush) and a Catholic (Blair) can do when they put their sick twisted evil minds together.
      ‘The use of violence against civilians for political ends’ = TERRORISM according to the dictionary (not the presstitute media propaganda). The good folk of the US and Britain elect WAR MONGERING TERRORISTS.

      • Anonymous

        It took two Christians talking themselves into doing it to Iraq.

        It only took one atheist to convince China to do it to itself. (Cultural revolution.)

        Make of that what you will. As for me, I think war is always sweet to those who do not know it: Christian or atheist, it’s the naivete that makes the difference.

        • Saiful Rimkeit

          Your internal monster is happy with the results of war.

    • peacenick

      war only brings pain and suffering, never peace, haven’t we learned that by now?

      • antred

        I don’t like overly simplistic statements like that. Some wars were necessary (unless you would have preferred surrendering to Nazi-Germany) … Iraq was not one of those wars.

      • London

        the PTB don’t do it for the peace..