[ RadSafe ] RE: uranium in the gulf war

James Salsman james at bovik.org
Sat Jun 24 21:24:16 CDT 2006


Thanks again for your questions.  I don't call myself an
activist, and I don't want to, because there are some really
strange DU activists out there.  I don't get any money from
anyone with a point of view about any kind of uranium, or
nuclear power, or mining, or even military issues.  I used to
be a member of the Campaign for a Landmine Free World, which
is part of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, but I
think my membership lapsed after I moved last year, and I was
giving them money instead of the other way around.  I've never
been employed or taken money or received anything of value for
any of my work on uranium.  I have, however, been declared
an "interested party" by a Nuclear Regulatory Commission lawyer,
which means that someday (far in the future) I might qualify
for reimbursement under the Equal Access to Justice Act for
my efforts if the NRC ever recognizes the reproductive and
developmental toxicity of uranium -- which, amazingly, they
have not yet done, even though all the major uranium toxicology
textbooks have noted those problems since at least the early 1950s.

I am not a veteran.  The reason that I am interested in this
issue, primarily, is because of the disturbing implications
for the general reproductive health of the civilian and military
population.  My parents were both in the military, my father a
paratrooper during the Korean War, and my mom and dad both
eventually became science teachers in the Defense Dependents
School system, and I was born on a US Army base in Germany.
But what really got me into this issue was a friend of mine,
whose brother was a Vietnam vet, and who died of cancer within
a few years from returning home.  That was a horrible experience
for him, but I really didn't think about it.  Then, sometime in
the mid-1990s, I read the story of how the carcinogens were
contaminating the Agent Orange (with which my friend's vet
brother had been working) and I was struck by how careless the
military was, and how much it reminded me of Eisenhower's
warning about the "military industrial complex" in his fairwell
speech.  That stuck in my mind.  Then, in 2004, I read a
"Project Censored" report about depleted uranium weapons and
gulf war illness.  It had some obvious factual errors (something
about 200,000 times the amount of radiation from the Nagasaki
bomb, when they meant 200,000 times the kilograms of uranium)
and so I started studying the issue.  The more I read, the more
it seemed obvious to me that there needed to be some more
research.  But there is also an active, semi-coordinated
campaign by active and retired military to do public relations
work in support of depleted uranium weaponry -- there is a memo
from Los Alamos about this, which you can read here:
That site, which I just found with a web search, would seem to
be a pretty good resource by and for veterans with Gulf War-
related problems; I hadn't seen it before today:

So, my motivation these days is, if it was so difficult for the
people in the early 1970s to test the Agent Orange shipments to
which soldiers were being exposed for carcinogens and
teratogens, then the government probably needs someone to
remind them to check the uranium for inhalation risks which may
have been missed, until they do.  I have been at this for about
two years now, and the only thing that has really changed is
that there are now a bunch of state governments which mandate
urine isotope ratio tests, which I think are completely flawed.
I don't think there is exactly a conspiracy involved, just
naturally-occurring stupidity and unprofessionalism.

As for nerve agents like sarin and mustard gases to which people
were known to be exposed, the actual extent of the exposures
must have been very low for one simple reason:  Of all the
symptoms of Gulf War illness, an increase in the cancer rate has
never been confirmed by medical studies except very recently
with respect to brain cancer deaths:

Nerve and mustard gases are fast acting, and they cause immediate
symptoms of poisoning which were not reported in Gulf War troops.
Their chronic effects include increased incidence of cancer, and
a MUCH SMALLER increase in congenital malformation (birth defect)
rates in the children of the exposed:

If it had been from nerve agents, there would be a whole lot more
cancers, and they would have appeared early along with the
expected and well-understood symptoms of those poisons.  However,
Gulf war illness symptoms took a long time to appear, consistent
with the slow damage done by heavy metals such as uranium
accumulation in cellular nuclei.  The Centers for Disease Control
did not report any increased hospitalizations in deployed Gulf
War veterans until almost four years after the war:

The trend in the Iraqi civilian population is remarkably similar.
Presumably the Iraqis were not also attacking their own people
with nerve gas; at least not during the 1991 Gulf War.  However
this chart reflects the number of congenital malformations per
1,000 births reported in Basrah University Hospital:
A subset of that data was reported by I. Al-Sadoon, et al.,
writing in the Medical Journal of Basrah University; see Table 1:

The trend in US and UK troops has been the same, with early-1990s
data reporting no effects, late-1990s data reporting increasing
effects in both American and British troops. And now there is a
clampdown on the release of any data more current than from 2000.
Even worse, the same people responsible for reporting the birth
defect rate trend have come pretty close to -- if not outright --
lying about it in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.  They
are Dr. Margaret Ryan of the U.S. Naval Health Research Center,
who is in charge of the Birth and Infant Health Registry, and
Dr. Pat Doyle in the UK who works as an epidemiologist on the
subject.  They authored a paper entitled, "Reproductive health of
Gulf War veterans," in the Philosophical Transactions of the
Royal Society B (2006) volume 361, pages 571–584.  On page 574
they state that Dr. H. Kang, et al. (2001) in "Pregnancy outcomes
among US Gulf war veterans: a population-based survey of 30,000
veterans" in Annals of Epidemiology, volume 11, pages 504–511,
"reported some evidence of a modest increase in risk of birth
defect for male veterans' offspring...."

In fact, Dr. Kang and his colleagues reported a near-doubling of
birth defect risk in male veterans' offspring and a near-tripling
in female veterans' offspring.  Drs. Ryan and Doyle omitted any
mention of the female veterans' birth defect rate in their article.

Now, on this particular topic I refuse to say whether I believe
there is a conspiracy involved.  But the medical data is clear,
the symptoms of Gulf War illness, including birth defects, are
consistent with the slow poison of heavy metal uranium poisoning
rather than the fast acting and far more carcinogenic nerve agents.

James Salsman

Carlos Billings wrote:

> James, are you an activist or a vet-why do you do this?
> How do you know that the birth defects come from uranium and not stuff
> like the nerve gas and mustard gas?
> Thanks
> Carlos
> On 6/24/06, James Salsman <james at bovik.org> wrote:
>> 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
>> exposure.
>> 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.
>> Sincerely,
>> 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>
>> Carlos,
>> 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:
>>    http://www.bovik.org/du/Salbu-uranyl-detected.pdf
>> Please see also:
>>    http://www.bovik.org/du/Alexander2005.pdf
>>    http://www.bovik.org/du/Wilson61.pdf
>> 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
>> information:
>>    http://www.bovik.org/du/Sutton04.pdf
>>    http://www.bovik.org/du/Stradling2000.pdf
>> 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:
>>    http://www.ehjournal.net/content/4/1/17
>> 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:
>> http://www.annalsofepidemiology.org/article/PIIS1047279701002459/abstract
>> 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:
>>    http://www.bovik.org/du/chromosome-abberations.pdf
>>    http://www.bovik.org/du/chromosome-abberations.ppt
>> 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:
>>    http://vitw.org/archives/405
>>    http://www.cadu.org.uk/news/17.htm#icbuw
>>    http://www.factsofwny.org/buff12162004.htm
>>    http://villagevoice.com/news/0525,lombardi,65154,5.html
>> P.S. Here is the most recent medical research of which I am aware:
>> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=16679544 
>> Sincerely,
>> James Salsman
>> Carlos Billings wrote:
>>  > A good friend of mine is vet who has some real problems, and some
>> questions
>>  >
>>  > 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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