Fw: NATO forces react to depleted uranium backlash

Les Schaffer schaffer at SPAMoptonline.net
Sun Jan 21 10:26:04 MST 2001

[ bounced forward from unsubbed Communards <list at communards.de> and
reformatted. translation but not original included ]

Von: Tina Purnat <Tina.Purnat at directory.reed.edu
An: Tina Purnat <Tina.Purnat at directory.reed.edu
Datum: Freitag, 19. Januar 2001 17:47
Betreff: Re: NATO forces react to depleted uranium backlash

I got this message from an M.D. in Slovenia in response to one of my
forwarded emails regarding D.U. Especially interesting is his comment
(c).  He points out that the campaign against the D.U. weapons should
include a critique of materials also included into the D.U. missiles,
that, he states, are even more hazardous for human health than the
D.U. itself. One of the isotopes included, Plutonium, is highly

He therefore suggests that the discussion of the D.U. ammunition
should be directed or expanded to emcompass those elements that in
effect pose a high health hazard. "Otherwise their experts will have
no trouble in proving that their statements are right, and we will
once again be caught off guard in out arguments."

Sorry to have translated this comment late, it seems that the same
critiques have broken in the news in the last few days. But I think he
has a valid point and gives some good information regarding
radioactivity useful to a lay person.



-----Translation -----

(a) If D.U. ammunition is packed away in a protective casing, uranium
is significantly less hazardous than the aerosol of the D.U. that is
released upon impact with the target. The radioactive and toxic
aerosol can be spread out (depending on wind) along a geographical
surface and can occur as a "fall out" far away form the point of
explosion. Radioactive effect on the body is practically always
cumulative because of the long half-life, but it is not linear! This
means that even a low dose of radioactivity at the right place (for
example next to a quickly-dividing cell) has a much greater effect
than a higher ammount of radiactivity that is for example applied to a
less-sensitive tissue (example: skin).  Due to their small size, the
radioactive aerosol particles can penetrate much deeper into the
organism (through the respiratory pathway) than many bigger particles
that remain lying around as relatively big pieces of ammunition on the
field that can be avoided (if we see them, of course). A man living in
an area contaminated with the radioactive aerosol cannot avoid it
(unless he wears a protective mask), because he does not detect the
hazard with his senses.

(b) D. U. ammunition is made out of radioactive waste from nuclear
power plants, which must otherwise be stored deeply below the surface
of the earth with very high cost. The waste includes much more than
just uranium -- the components that are hazardous either because of
high radioactivity, or because they have a direct cytotoxic effect (in
effect, they are extremely dangerous poisons), or beceuse they are a
combination of both. Among the radioactive matters there are also
those ( Caesium, Strontium, Iodine, Barium- called isotopes), that are
an integral part of the biological metabolism and get nested in an
organism (for example, natural iodine selectively accumulates in the
thyroid gland). D.U. ammunition does not include only uranium
(hazardous because of the "surface radiation", but a long line of
isotopes that are highly directly cytotoxic (Plutonium, Strontium,
etc.) and/or get nested into the organism (possibly also into the DNA
itself) and have a permanent effect there. The uptake of the isotopes
(their behavior in the biological tissue) specifically depends on
their solubility in the tissue. This is sometimes used in diagnostic
medicine; for example, a specific tissue can be marked with an
isotopic solution that accumulates in a specific tissue and can then
be presented in a picture.

(c) to properly assess the health hazards of D.U. ammunition, we must
therefore take into account all the components of the ammunition that
are released anew at the impact with the target. The radioactivity of
uranium U238 or U235 is only a fraction of the hazard. NATO experts
are aruing that the cumulative radioactivity of the D.U. ammunition is
relatively low (also because it is spread across a wide geographical
area) and that the radioactivity does not surpass the amount of
radioactivity we are exposed to annualy from the cosmic emission
s(they are partially even correct).  However, they keep quiet about
the fact that D.U. includes a myriad of other toxic substances, in
comparison with which Uranium is a pure joke.  (example:
plutonium). In addition, an explosion of D.U. ammunition produces
other hazardous substances (toxic gasses and new isotopes) that do not
even exist before the impact with the target. Moreover, the isotopes
get built into the food chain (from water to fish/sheep/ to
....). Effect on a biological organism is kumulative and after a few
years the same than on the day of the isotope emission.

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