Sunday, September 14, 2008

On the Wind - DU and You!

A dust storm blows out of Iraq into neighboring countries.

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Natural uranium is ubiquitous in our environment. It is present in the earth, the air we breath and the water we drink. As a species, we have thus always been subjected to uranium exposure. It is likely that this background radiation and heavy-metal exposure is responsible for a certain on-going “base” level of human disease and death experienced by our species since the dawn of time. However, uranium does not appear in nature in its purified metallic form, nor does it manifest itself in particulates of dust so fine (less than 5 microns in diameter) as to become deeply embedded in the lungs, nor does it take on the particularly insoluble crystalline structure of a ceramic. Unfortunately, all three of these characteristics describe the nature of depleted uranium when it is used in munitions. When U and DU burn (as happens when a DU shell strikes a hard object), an aerosol of these ultra-fine particles of uranium oxide ceramic form and can become dispersed far beyond the battlefield in which they were used. [Compendium of Uranium and Depleted Uranium Research 1942 to 2004]

The finely powdered Depleted Uranium, 1-2 microns in size, has been spread over Iraq and Kuwait during the gulf war - over 300 tons, and from Shock and Awe up through the present - 1,500 tons. This amount is equivalent to 14,218 Hiroshima bombs. DU has also been distributed throughout Yugoslavia during the Balkan Uprising and in Afghanistan since 2001.

This dust is being picked up by the dry winds that blow through the region and are being dispersed far and wide. From
"Did the use of Uranium weapons in Gulf War II result in contamination of Europe? Evidence from the measurements of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Aldermaston, Berkshire, UK," reported the Sunday Times Online (February 19, 2006) in a shocking scientific study authored by British scientists Dr. Chris Busby and Saoirse Morgan.

The highest levels of depleted uranium ever measured in the atmosphere in Britain, were transported on air currents from the Middle East and Central Asia; of special significance were those from the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan in 2001, and the "Shock & Awe" bombing during Gulf War II in Iraq in 2003.
The report continues, informing us of an apparent cover-up of the evidence, keeping the information from the public.
Out of concern for the public, the official British government air monitoring facility, known as the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), at Aldermaston, was established years ago to measure radioactive emissions from British nuclear power plants and atomic weapons facilities.

The British government facility (AWE) was taken over 3 years ago by Halliburton, which refused at first to release air monitoring data to Dr. Busby, as required by law.
The fact that the air monitoring data was circulated by Halliburton/ AWE to the Defence Procurement Agency, implies that it was considered to be relevant, and that Dr. Busby was stonewalled because Halliburton/ AWE clearly recognized that it was a serious enough matter to justify a government interpretation of the results, and official decisions had to be made about what the data would show and its political implications for the military.
By no means was this a small blip on the background radiation which could be ignored:
Aldermaston is one of many nuclear facilities throughout Europe that regularly monitor atmospheric radiation levels, transported by atmospheric sand and dust storms, or air currents, from radiation sources in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

After the "Shock and Awe" campaign in Iraq in 2003, very fine particles of depleted uranium were captured with larger sand and dust particles in filters in Britain.

These particles traveled in 7-9 days from Iraqi battlefields as far as 2400 miles away.

The radiation measured in the atmosphere quadrupled within a few weeks after the beginning of the 2003 campaign, and at one of the 5 monitoring locations, the levels twice required an official alert to the British Environment Agency.
Much research out there tries to paint DU as harmless in the environment despite its 4.5 billion year half life. They point to relatively low radiation levels from it and compare it favorably against other forms of more active uranium isotopes. The problem is they are not taking into account the form in which it occurs as an aerosol which is easily inhaled yet hard to remove from the body due to its insolubility in water. Thus it remains in the body, causing cell damage over a long period of time:
One milligram of depleted uranium, a possible body-burden mass in terms of aerosols inhaled by front-line troops, produces over one million alpha particles and two million beta particles (from its decay products) every day. The chance of irreparable biological damage from some of these over the decades that depleted uranium remains in the lungs is quite significant -- just when depends on the laws of statistical probability.

What's more, as the depleted uranium dissolves into the bloodstream over the years, it migrates to other organs of the body. The majority finds its way to the kidneys, leading to nephritis; some settles more permanently in the lymph glands and bone, where the ravages of ionizing radiation can cause lymphoma and leukemia, chronic anemia and slow destruction of the immune system. Because detectable damage depends on probabilities, there can be no practical threshold below which exposure to ionizing radiation is harmless. This fact explains why four identically exposed individuals may develop quite different maladies or none at all.

There is also much evidence of DU's impact on reproductive health:

This problem is not confined to the Middle East. The fine particles are being distributed world wide on the natural wind currents that circle the globe.

The following picture shows a dust storm which has swept across Africa from the Middle East and headed out to sea, eventually to drop its load of DU contaminated dust on Florida.

It is long beyond time to stop the use of these weapons. We are poisoning the entire world, creating a wasteland for our children and their children.
International Coalition to Ban Depleted Uranium

All articles in this series - Link

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