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Depleted Uranium Contaminates the Body for Twenty Years

by David Gutierrez
April 10, 2008

(NaturalNews) Traces of depleted uranium (DU) have been found in people even 20 years after their initial exposure, according to research conducted by a scientist from the University of Leicester, England and presented at the 119th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver.

Professor Randall R. Parrish and colleagues developed a new method for detecting DU residue in urine. They then tested this method on people known or suspected to have been exposed to DU, including a large group of veterans from the 1991 Gulf War. Traces of DU were found among all those known to have been exposed, even more than 20 years prior.

Parrish said that the study showed that while exposure to DU might be rare among Gulf War veterans, the effects of that exposure can be long lasting. He said that the new test provides a way to resolve cases in which exposure is uncertain or becomes a legal issue

"Our method has been used to show that it is capable of resolving legal cases based on a claim of DU exposure," Parrish said. "It offers a way to resolve debates about DU and health and provide perspective on the issue.

"Resolving the potential implications of DU to health in contaminated populations is best done by properly testing exposed cohorts. The cohorts in need of study are those living in DU-contaminated areas of Iraq, or those living in the vicinity of DU munitions factories with large DU contamination footprints."

DU is a waste product of uranium enrichment, containing approximately one-third the radioactive isotopes of naturally occurring uranium. Because of its high density, it is widely used by the U.S. military in armor- or tank-piercing ammunition. When the metal strikes another object at high impact, however, small aerosol particles can be release into the air and inhaled. Inhalation of DU has been linked to a variety of health problems caused by both its chemical and radioactive properties.