[ RadSafe ] RE: uranium in the gulf war

James Salsman james at bovik.org
Sat Jun 24 15:23:08 CDT 2006

Dear Colonel Daxon:

I apologize for not completely representing your comments.
I did not understand some of them because they were so brief.
What part of my message to Carlos Billings is incorrect?
In particular, do you disagree with any of the following
points?  I believe these all are well-supported, and as-yet
undisputed facts:

1.  Uranium combustion from munitions fires such as those
from 30mm DU rounds occurs above 2500 Kelvin and directly
produces uranium dioxide (UO2) and trioxide (UO3) gas.

2.  Much of both of the uranium oxide gases condense into
particulate aerosol and dust solids.

3.  When UO3 gas condenses, it decomposes into U3O8, which
comprises 75% of solid uranium combustion product.  (UO2
particulates comprise the remainder.)

4.  Some of the UO3 gas escapes into the air, before it can
condense with other UO3 molecules to form U3O8.

5.  Some of the UO3 plates out on surfaces, e.g., as
detected in the swabs collected by Salbu et al. (2005).

6.  Nobody has ever measured the gas products of uranium
combustion.  So far, only the solid combustion products have
been measured.

7.  UO3 gas inhalation and U3O8 particulate inhalation will
both lead to uranyl ion absorption in the bloodstream.

8.  Uranyl absorption from UO3 gas inhalation is immediate,
while absorption from U3O8 particles is much slower, because
U3O8 is partially soluble and takes months for half of it to
dissolve in the lungs.

9.  The particulate aerosols diffuse through the air at a
different rate than UO3 gas.  Therefore, UO3 gas exposure
will not always occur simultaneously with particulate oxide

10.  Uranyl ions absorbed by cells from the bloodstream
soon become undetectable in the urine, as renal elimination
occurrs with a half-time of less than two weeks.

11.  Since UO3 gas may be encountered without particulates,
urine isotope ratio studies which depend on detecting
uranium from slowly dissolving uranium oxide particles do
not necessarily indicate uranium combustion product
inhalation exposure, or the extent of uranyl poisoning.

12.  The toxicological profile of uranyl poisoning is
dependent on elimination effects, such that a small dose
occurring quickly (such as from UO3 gas) will have a
different physiological effect than from a larger dose
occurring over a longer a period of time (such as from U3O8
particle dissolution in the lungs.)

13.  All uranyl poisoning is genotoxic and teratogenic,
increasing the probability of chromosome aberrations in
white blood cells and birth defects in children.

14.  Karyotyping measurements of chromosome aberrations will
proportionally reflect uranyl exposure, in addition to other
genetic damage.

15.  Empirical measurement of the amount of UO3 gas produced
by uranium combustion is necessary for determining the proper
medical response to uranium combustion product exposure.

For those items with which you do disagree, please let me know
why.  Based on the content of your earlier messages, where
exactly we disagree is currently a mystery to me.  Thank you.

James Salsman

> Unfortunately Mr. Salsman did not relate the main thrust of my comments and
> Dr. Alexander's comments concerning UO3.  I do not agree that UO3 is an
> issue for reasons that I have already discussed.  DoD did look for and found
> trace amounts of UO3 as expected.  I have read the references quoted below
> and they support my conclusions and the findings in the DoD Capstone report.
> The message conveyed by the remainder of Mr. Salzman's post is incorrect and
> at odds with what we know about uranium and depleted uranium.  This subject
> has been studied since the late 1940's.
> If your friend has concerns about his exposure, the Department of Veterans
> Affairs and the Department of Defense have programs that can provide
> information and assistance.  I helped put them together.
> v/r
> Eric Daxon, PhD, CHP
> Colonel, USA(Ret)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: uranium in the gulf war
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 10:57:28 -0700
From: James Salsman <james at readsay.com>
To: Carlos Billings <billingsauto at gmail.com>
CC: radsafe at radlab.nl,  alexandc at battelle.org,  edaxon at satx.rr.com
References: <e9f470380606230059q6c199f31ie5a6b3b02b4c5c at mail.gmail.com>


Thank you for your questions.  What happened to your vet friend?

All of the combustion products of depleted uranium munitions are
toxic, including both the uranium dioxide (UO2, which is 25% of
the aerosol particles produced -- technically not "gas"), and
more so the triuranium octaoxide (U3O8, 75% of the particles
produced) because the U3O8 is more soluble.

I have asked Dr. Alexander and Colonel Daxon about whether there
is also gas vapor produced.  I think they agree that there must
be uranium trioxide (UO3, or "uranyl oxide") gas produced from
the combustion, which condenses to form the U3O8.  The question
is how much of it remains uncondensed in the air, and for how long.
There are a reasons to believe that substantial amounts do for a
while:  Firstly, U3O8 is too large of a molecule to be produced
directly from a uranium fire, which takes place at a temperature
of over 2500 Kelvin.  Since it comes from UO3 gas condensation and
decomposition, some of the UO3 gas must escape before it can
condense with other UO3 molecules, and remain isolated in the air.
Also, there is some direct evidence of UO3 film condensation, as
opposed to particulate condensation which forms U3O8:
Please see also:

However, nobody in the government, or anyone responsible for the
health aspects of DU munitions has ever measured the combustion
products of uranium for their gas products.  This is something of
a sore spot with me, because I think it represents some pretty
serious negligence.  If uranium fires do produce UO3 gas, then
the people treating exposure to the fumes need to know, because
unlike aerosol particles of U3O8 or UO2, UO3 gas goes directly
into the bloodstream if inhaled.  That means it has a different
toxicological profile.  As far as I can tell, so far no medical
research has even explored this fact.  Because I have spoken out
against those I feel are responsible, my posts to the radsafe
list are now moderated, unlike most other people's.  For more

Inhaling any kind of soluble uranium, such as U3O8 or UO3, can
cause uranium accumulation in gonocytes, which lead to birth
defects.  The best source for information about this is:

There is some pretty convincing evidence that the birth defect
rates for Gulf War veterans kids has been sharply increasing
over time.  The Birth and Infant Health Registry at the Naval
Health Research Center used to release statistics about this,
but 2000 was the last year they actually did after a sharp
uptrend in the congenital malformation rate.  See:

I have no idea how much uranium the various troops in different
locations were exposed to.  I think the idea of using urine tests
to study isotope ratios, which is currently popular, is not a
good idea, because if some of the exposure was from gas instead
of particles, that gas will not remain partially undissolved in
the lungs like the particles do and so it won't show up as much
in urine many years later.  I recommend that anyone wanting to
know their exposure to birth defect problems get a "karyotyping"
test, such as is described in this paper and slides:

Most of the therapies which work to alleviate uranium exposure
are really only effective if applied a short time after the
exposure occurs.  After uranium is absorbed from the blood to
the organs and tissues, there isn't much that can be done.  I
recommend these articles on related topics:

P.S. Here is the most recent medical research of which I am aware:

James Salsman

Carlos Billings wrote:

 > A good friend of mine is vet who has some real problems, and some 
 > I've been looking the May archive of this radsafe at radlab.nl emailing
 > list, on the subject "
 > [ RadSafe ] [Fwd: RE: uranium combustion produces how much     UO3(g)?]"
 > I want to know:  What gas, comes from burning uranium,  what does it
 > do, does it cause birth defect problms,
 > and how much was the 1st Infantry exposed to from Hafar Al Basin,
 > Saudi Arabia to Safwan, Iraq to Kuwait City exposed to, and what can
 > be done about it if they were?
 > I'm a subscriber to the email list now, so you can reply to me or you
 > can reply to this email list
 > Thank you!
 > Carlos

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