[ RadSafe ] Re: [ RadSafe] What Became of this 2001 WHO Investigation?

James Salsman james at bovik.org
Mon Jul 25 21:14:42 CDT 2005


Thank you for this message, which did make it to RADSAFE:

> You seem to assume that all 400 tons of U munitions burned up.  

Depending on the type of ordnance, and whether it hits a hard
target, anywhere from 0% to 80% will burn.  Based on previous
discussions here, the average is about 12% of the total fired.

> Then it immediatly reacted with oxygen in the air to form a stable
> oxide like U3O8. 

U3O8 is stable when dry at room temperature, but not between
1200-1800 Kelvin, when it produces uranyl oxide fumes in gas
vapor form.  The June 1995 Army Environmental Policy Institute
technical report entitled, "Health and Environmental
Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the U.S. Army," says
that U3O8 weathers into dissolved UO3.  I am skeptical of that
because I think they may have been trying to avoid the fact
that UO3 is a combustion product produced in about the same
quantity as UO2, only as gas vapor fumes instead of particles.

> More likely the "pesticides, fertilizers, oil, gasoline and heavy 
> metals" contribute to birth defects, not to mention nutritional 
> deficiencies caused by loss of jobs and the war. 

Pesticides, fertilizers, oil, gasoline, and benzine, along
with the vaccines, antidotes, and oil well fire fumes might
be poisons and carcinogenic, but they are not reproductive
toxicants.  The closest is the anthrax vaccine which is a
developmental toxicant but not a reproductive poison.  The
kinds of nutritional deficiencies which cause birth defects
(e.g., lack of folate) do not cause the kinds of birth defects
observed in U.S. and U.K. soldier's kids and Basrah civilians.

The teratogenicity of uranium is because it is a heavy metal,
binding to proteins and catalyzing oxidants such as hydroxyl,
not primarily because of its radioactivity, which causes about
10^6 less chromosome damage than the chemical toxicity:

>... how good is the birth defect data for Iraq--both recent
> and historical? 

I suppose it has suffered recently, since I read in the news
that those M.D.s who have not already fled Iraq are presently
on strike to protest soldiers' behavior in the hospitals.
However, the data I am referring to was collected during
times of relative calm, and generally follows the same ICD-9
categories that we use in the U.S.:  I. Al-Sadoon, et al,
"Depleted Uranium and Health of People in Basrah:
Epidemiological Evidence," Medical Journal of Basrah University,
vol. 17, nos. 1&2 (1999) -- see in particular Table 1 here:

Compare to these lesser increases in U.K. and U.S. troops:

"Overall, the risk of any malformation among pregnancies reported by men 
was 50% higher in Gulf War Veterans (GWV) compared with Non-GWVs"
-- Doyle et al. Int. J. Epidemiol., vol. 33 (2004), pp. 74-86

"Infants conceived postwar to male GWVs had significantly higher 
prevalence of tricuspid valve insufficicieny (relative risk [RR], 2.7; 
95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-6.6; p = 0.039) and aortic valve 
stenosis (RR, 6.0; 95% CI, 1.2-31.0; p = 0.026) compared to infants 
conceived postwar to nondeployed veteran males. Among infants of male 
GWVs, aortic valve stenosis (RR, 163; 95% CI, 0.09-294; p = 0.011) and 
renal agenesis or hypoplasia (RR, 16.3; 95% CI, 0.09-294; p = 0.011) 
were significantly higher among infants conceived postwar than prewar."
-- Araneta, et al., Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. vol. 67,
no. 4 (2003), pp. 246-60: 

If those were due to folate deficiencies, neural tube defects
would dominate.

> You are obsessive about UO2.  We're trying to tell you it's not the 

Agreed, but I'm not obsessive about UO2.  UO2 is boring.  I'm
trying to explain the facts about UO3, a/k/a uranyl oxide, which
according to the Gmelin Handbook are, "not infrequently ignored."

>... There are more important threats to human health where 
> your efforts would be much more productive, for example the
> fight against malaria.

If I had more time, I would love to work on or study transgenic
mosquitoes.  But, malaria isn't likely to threaten my family
directly.  Given the proportion of us in the military, who are
veterans, or who are or were civilians in the Defense
Dependents' School System, uranium inhalation poisoning does.

James Salsman

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