AW: [ RadSafe ] Report on DU blown from Iraq to the UK another DUfantasy

Franz Schönhofer franz.schoenhofer at
Wed Feb 22 10:17:52 CST 2006


Out of curiosity I downloaded the Busby report and read it carefully. Please
find below my comments. I will not send it to any newspaper editor, but
anybody who wants to use it for that purpose (or any other one) is kindly
invited to do so. My credentials besides many others: Installed a modern
environmental surveillance system in Austria in the late seventies and early
eighties, including high volume aerosol samplers; extensive work on
questions of bomb fallout and global contamination; heavy involvement in the
consequences of the Chernobyl accidents both on national (I wrote the
official report on Austria) and international (WHO, IAEA and conferences)
level, head of the terrestrial working group of the International Mururoa
Project of the IAEA etc.

I didn't spend time to check all references, some seem to originate from
well known antinuclear and anti-DU groups. (I myself do not like any war,
whether it implies the use of DU or non-DU weapons.) 

One reference caught my attention immediately: "European Committee on
Radiation Risk (ECRR), an independent radiation risk agency based in
Brussels". Some background information, to be read also on
The name mocks (? pretends?) an official organisation ("Committee") of the
"European (Union)". Mentioning Brussels, which is commonly regarded as the
"capital" of the European Union seems to support this attempt. This is not
true. It is a private group, initiated by the European Greens in the EU
Parliament, who are a minuscule minority in the EU Parliament. On the
web-page mentioned you will find as contributors or members Rosalie Bertell,
Alice Stewart and Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake, the last one being the
Rosalie-Bertell-Equivalent in Germany and Europe. Interesting is, that Chris
Busby is the Scientific Secretary. For my linquistic understanding an
"agency" is something with a national (Environmental Protection Agency) or
an international (International Atomic Agency) background and with certain
powers or at least (moral) authority. ECRR has neither of it. So we see both
the attempt to pretend a status, which it has not and the fact, that Chris
Busby is "advertising" this groups questionable papers to support his own
more than questionable "research".  

Now to the paper:

There is no strict distinction between "Uranium" and "Depleted Uranium". It
is mentioned  that "we reduced the HVAS Uranium in air data to nBq/m3". The
only conclusion I can draw from this short sentence is, that the original
data on "uranium" were given on a mass concentration basis, which makes full
sense taking the chemotoxic impact of uranium into accound, which exceeds
the radiotoxic one by far. So what is the basis for the conversion to
nBq/m3? Natural uranium? Depleted uranium? The conversion factors would be
quite different! 

The sampling was carried out in the vicinity of a plant, which has been
accused to emit "uranium" (which kind? Which chemical form?), which was also
according to the paper the reason that HVAS were installed. To use data from
an area which might be affected by emissions from another source is not
really state of the art. 

In Fig. 2 and 3 and table 2 there are no error bars given - unacceptable for
a scientific paper. In Fig. 2 only one site (series 3) shows an easily
distinguishable significantly higher concentration in April (?) 2004, the
other sites, which are according to the maps situated very close were only
slightly elevated. 

Only in Table 4 standard deviations are given, though it is not clear
whether it is only a measurement error or includes also the systematic
errors. The highest "war" mean value is given as 1 230 nBq/m3, the SD given
as 409 nBq/m3 In low-level counting 1 SD is meaningless and usually the
confidence level expressed by 3 SD deviation is given (I did it through
decades of work). 3 SD would be 1 227 nBq/m3, or with other words the same
value as the measurement. If the authors would have included the "uranium"
background and applied the Gaussian error propagation law he would have had
to recognize that their claims are not at all significant and therefore

This was very simple science, but now let us move to common sense.

That these claimed elevations would have occurred at only one single
sampling station (see above) after the "particles" travelled all the way
from Iraq to Aldermaston is not explained in this report. Europe is tightly
dotted with aerosol sampling and measurement stations. I do not know of any
reports of elevated uranium (nat? DU?) concentrations. The authors have not
tried to find out. That trajectories etc. are extremely inaccurate is more
than well known. 

I miss any comment on the isotopic composition of the claimed excess uranium
particles. In the year 2006 this is not an analytical problem. To identify
DU by the absence of U-234 even traditional alpha-spectrometry is more than
well suited. If the authors still claim that DU was found in one sampling
station near Aldermaston they should provide a proof by an isotopic analysis
of the particles sampled. If they showed to be of natural isotopic
composition - forget it, if they show DU - go on with investigations. 

I have been working for a long time as a journal reviewer - this paper would
never have passed my review. 

Best regards

Franz Schoenhofer
PhD, MR iR
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Vienna
phone -43-0699-1168-1319

> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] Im
> Auftrag von Dawson, Fred Mr
> Gesendet: Dienstag, 21. Februar 2006 10:47
> An: radsafe
> Betreff: [ RadSafe ] Report on DU blown from Iraq to the UK another
> DUfantasy
> The Sunday Times reports that Chris Busby says that a  jump UK radiation
> is due the use of depleted uranium ammunition blamed in Iraq
>   ,,2087-2047373,00.html
> The Busby report can be found at

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