We Know Depleted Uranium Is Highly Toxic And We’ve Known For A Long Time

While I”m delighted to see this piece in Truthout about the horrors of depleted uranium, it erroneously refers to, 

“a previously undisclosed 1993 Defense Department document written by then-Brigadier Gen. Eric Shinseki, now the secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), shows that the Pentagon was concerned about DU contamination and the agency had ordered medical testing on all personnel that were exposed to the toxic substance.”

Not quite. I wrote about it here in 2005,

“It is the military’s use of Depleted Uranium that should cause the most alarm. Not only is the evidence of irreparable harm becoming undeniable, it is also quite clear that the U.S. government has been aware of the lethality of these weapons for quite some time. Despite denials of health risks, a 1950 Army pamphlet states, “Although there is negligible danger from uranium and plutonium outside the body, it is possible for dangerous amounts of these elements to enter the body through the lungs, the digestive system, or breaks in the skin.” (14) An FAA Advisory Circular written in 1984 stated, “if particles are inhaled or ingested, they can be chemically toxic and cause a significant and long-lasting irradiation of internal tissue.” In 1990, U.S. Army Armaments, Munitions and Chemical Command (AMCCOM) reported that depleted uranium is a “low level alpha radiation emitter, which is linked to cancer when exposures are internal.” AMCCOM’s radiological task group also pointed out that the “long term effects of low doses [of DU] have been implicated in cancer, there is no dose so low that the probability of effect is zero.” The risk to our own military personnel was spelled out in a 1993 letter from the U.S. Army Surgeon General stating that, “When soldiers inhale or ingest DU dust, they incur a potential increase in cancer risk.” And in 1995, a U.S. Army U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute report to Congress says that depleted uranium has the potential to generate “significant medical consequences”. (15)”

So enough already, we’ve known about the risks for decades, at least back to 1950, it is time to stop using these toxic chemicals.  Not only do they harm our “enemies” in ways that violate the Geneva Convention, not to mention human decency, they also harm our own soldiers and citizenry and while the first part of that might be hard to understand, being our own collateral damage defies all logic.

Addenda:  Truthout has changed their wording to, “little-known”, which is much better wording.  I think an issue this does bring up is that it isn’t so much that this stuff is un-disclosed than that it is there,hiding in plain sight. It just requires some digging and some persistence by the media to make sure that it gets seen.  In that, I am appreciative that Truthout is bringing it up and broadening the base of people who are aware of these atrocities.

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