[ RadSafe ] James Salsman, DU, and peer-reviewed literature

Steven Dapra sjd at swcp.com
Sun Mar 5 21:32:03 CST 2006

March 5

To all:

         I will have to take back what I said a day or two ago, and 
intervene in this dispute about DU.  (Caution:  this is a long message; 
about 2000 words.)

         On March 1, James Salsman offered a challenge to Robert Cherry and 
John R. Johnson, asking them to join him in calling for some testing or 
release of data pertaining to depleted uranium (DU) and its effects.  To 
support his claims about the toxicity of DU he offered nine refereed 
papers, and gave brief real or purported quotes from each one.  On March 4, 
he wrote again, saying, “I note again that in the additional complaints 
about my posts, there remains no opposition to my assertions supported by 
the peer-reviewed medical and scientific literature.”

         I have read the germane portions of eight of the nine papers 
Salsman offered, and some additional portions of those eight.  (The ninth 
one was not available to me.)  Below, in the order they appeared in 
Salsman’s challenge e-mail, are listed the nine papers, exactly as he 
posted them on RADSAFE.  My comments follow each one. Do they constitute 
‘opposition to James Salsman’s assertions’ that, he says, are supported by 
the literature?

         At the end of all this I have asked four question which I would 
like James Salsman to answer on RADSAFE.

[1] Salbu, B.; Janssens, K.; Lind, O.C.; Proost, K.; Gijsels, L., Danesic, 
P.R. (2005) "Oxidation states of uranium in depleted uranium particles from 
Kuwait." Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 78, 125­135: 
http://www.bovik.org/du/Salbu-uranyl-detected.pdf Abstract: "Environmental 
or health impact assessments for ... DU munitions should ... take into 
account the presence of respiratory UO3...."

         The full sentence reads:  “Environmental or health impact 
assessments for areas affected by DU munitions should therefore take into 
account the presence of respiratory UO2, U3O8, and even UO3 particles, 
their corresponding weathering rates and the subsequent mobilisation rate 
of U from oxidised DU particles.”

         This same sentence is also in the Conclusions, and is followed by 
this sentence:  “As the radioactivity of DU is lower than for natural 
uranium impact assessments should focus on DU as a heavy metal 
contamination problem.”  (This study is laboratory work.)

[2] Kang H, Magee C, Mahan C, Lee K, Murphy F, Jackson L, Matanoski G. 
(2001) "Pregnancy outcomes among U.S. Gulf War veterans: a population-based 
survey of 30,000 veterans." Annals of Epidemiology, vol. 11, pp. 504-11: 
Abstract: "Both men and women deployed to the Gulf theater reported 
significant excesses of birth defects among their liveborn infants. These 
excess rates also extended to the subset of 'moderate to severe' birth 
defects [males: OR= 1.78 (CI = 1.19-2.66); females: OR = 2.80 (CI = 

         This paper has an untitled heading listing Purpose, Methods, 
Results, and the Conclusion of the study.  The “Both men” sentence is in 
the Results, and is followed by this sentence:  “No statistically 
significant differences by deployment status were found among men or women 
for stillbirths, pre-term deliveries or infant mortality.”

         The Conclusion states:  “The risk of veterans reporting birth 
defects among their children was significantly associated with veteran’s 
military service in the Gulf War. This observation needs to be confirmed by 
a review of medical records to rule out possible reporting bias.”  (The 
authors describe their study as a “health survey.”)

[3] Schröder, H.; A. Heimers; R. Frentzel-Beyme; A. Schott; W. Hoffmann 
(2003) "Chromosome aberration analysis in peripheral lymphocytes of Gulf 
war and Balkans war veterans," Radiation Protection Dosimetry, vol. 103, 
pp. 211-220: http://www.bovik.org/du/chromosome-abberations.pdf Abstract: 
"there was a statistically significant increase in the frequency of 
dicentric chromosomes (dic) and centric ring chromosomes (cR) in the 
veterans. group...."

         The quote is correct.

         This is a study of 16 British war veterans (Gulf War, Balkans, or 
both) who may have been exposed to DU.  At the end of their study, the 
authors write, “Due to the small size and heterogeneity of the study group 
our findings should be interpreted with due caution.”  They continue, 
“However, the results raise some concern with respect to potential 
biological hazards from DU exposure.”  They go on to recommend further and 
larger studies.

[4] Arfsten, D.P.; K.R. Still; G.D. Ritchie (2001) "A review of the effects 
of uranium and depleted uranium exposure on reproduction and fetal 
development," Toxicology and Industrial Health, vol. 17, pp. 180-91: 
http://www.bovik.org/du/reproduction-review-2001.pdf Summary contains: "A 
number of studies have shown that natural uranium is a reproductive 

         Before the “Summary and ongoing research” says this, it says, “At 
this time, the multigenerational effects of DU exposure on rodent 
reproduction and development are not known.”  Studies have shown DU to be 
“potentially genotoxic and possibly carcinogenic.”  Then we have Salsman’s 
quote, which has been truncated:  “A number of studies have shown that 
natural uranium is a reproductive toxicant in rodents and may be toxic and 
teratogenic to the developing rodent fetus.”  The authors endorse more 
rodent studies, and the last sentence of the paper says, “Alternatively, 
exposure to DU alloy may have no adverse impact on rodent reproductive 
success or fetal development.”

         This paper has an untitled heading noting some DU studies on 
rats.  It then says, ”There is [sic] limited available data for 
reproductive and teratological deficits from exposure to uranium per se, 
typically from oral respiratory, or dermal exposure routes.  Alternatively, 
there is [sic] no data available on the reproductive effects of DU 
embedded.”  The paper “reviews published studies of reproductive toxicity 
in humans and animals from uranium or DU exposure, and discusses ongoing 
animal research to evaluate reproductive effects in male and female rats 
embedded with DU fragments,” and possible consequences in subsequent 
generations.  (Note that this is a review paper.)

[5] Hindin, R.; D. Brugge; B. Panikkar (2005) "Teratogenicity of depleted 
uranium aerosols: A review from an epidemiological perspective," 
Environmental Health, vol. 4, pp. 17: 
http://www.ehjournal.net/content/4/1/17 "Conclusion: In aggregate the human 
epidemiological evidence is consistent with increased risk of birth defects 
in offspring of persons exposed to DU."

         Salsman quotes the Abstract’s Conclusions correctly, and the 
Abstract’s Results say, “Animal studies firmly support the possibility that 
DU is a teratogen.”

         For what it’s worth, in the Acknowledgements, the authors 
write:  “Sunny Miller, executive director of Traprock Peace Center of 
Deerfield, MA hosted a presentation by Damacio Lopez (director of IDUST, 
International Depleted Uranium Study Team) which Rita Hindin attended and 
that eventually led to the writing of this paper. Our appreciation. Thanks 
to Len Dietz, Dan Bishop (of IDUST) and Tom Fasy (Mt. Sinai Medical Center, 
NYC) for their assistance early on explicating DU toxicology, and to the 
Uranium Weapons Study Team (of Traprock Peace Center) for thoughtful 
conversations and support to explore leads and deepen understanding of 
DU.”  (New Mexico readers may recognize the name Damacio Lopez.  DU is an 
important part of his life, and as recently as Jan. 20 he had a letter 
published in the “Daily Lobo,” the University of New Mexico campus 
newspaper, calling for yet another study of DU residues around Socorro, NM, 
where some DU testing was done in the mid-1980s.)  (This is a review paper.)

[6] Domingo, J.L. (2001) "Reproductive and developmental toxicity of 
natural and depleted uranium: a review," Reproductive Toxicology, vol. 15, 
pp. 603-9. Abstract: "Decreased fertility, embryo/fetal toxicity including 
teratogenicity, and reduced growth of the offspring have been observed 
following uranium exposure at different gestation periods."

         (No comments.  Reproductive Toxicology is not at the local 
university library and I could not find it on line.)

[7] Durakovic A. (1999) "Medical effects of internal contamination with 
uranium," Croatian Medical Journal, vol. 40, pp. 49-66: 
http://www.bovik.org/du/asaf_99.htm Abstract: "well documented evidence of 
reproductive and developmental toxicity...."

         This quoted snippet appears in some untitled introductory 
material. The full sentence reads, “Radiation toxicity of uranium isotopes 
has been recognized since the beginning of the nuclear era, with well 
documented evidence of reproductive and developmental toxicity, as well as 
mutagenic and carcinogenic consequences of uranium internal 
contamination.”  This sentence is preceded by some general comments about 
the purpose of Durakovic’s paper, and about the chemical toxicity of 
uranium.  Durakovic had said nothing about DU before writing the sentence 
from which Salsman quoted a mere eight words.  To be specific, Durakovic 
was making a general comment about the radiation toxicity of uranium.  He 
is not talking about DU in particular.  (This is a review paper.)

[8] McDiarmid, M.A., et al. (2006) "Biological monitoring and surveillance 
results of Gulf War I veterans exposed to depleted uranium," International 
Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, vol. 79, pp. 11-21. 
Abstract: "genotoxicity measures continue to show subtle, mixed results...."

         This paper appears to have been published in 2005, not in 
2006.  It was accepted in April, 2005, and is a study of veterans of the 
first Gulf War who were in their twelfth year of DU exposure.

         The full sentence about “genotoxicity measures” from the 
Abstract’s Results reads, “Markers of early changes in renal glomerular and 
tubular function were not statistically different between groups; however, 
genotoxicity measures continue to show subtle, mixed results.”  Before the 
“Markers” sentence, the authors wrote, “ No clinically significant uranium 
related health effects were observed in blood count, blood chemistries 
including renal markers, neuropsychological measures, and semen quality or 
genotoxicity measures.”  (This sentence was followed by the Abstract’s 

         In their study’s Conclusions, the authors write, “The subtle but 
biologically plausible findings in this chronically exposed, sentinel 
cohort continue to reassure on the one hand, but recommend ongoing 
surveillance on the other.”  (This study was a clinical assessment.)

[9] Miller, A.C.; M. Stewart; K. Brooks; L. Shi; N. Page (2003) "Depleted 
uranium-catalyzed oxidative DNA damage: absence of significant alpha 
particle decay," Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, vol. 91, pp. 246-252: 
http://www.bovik.org/du/Miller-DNA-damage.pdf Abstract: "chemical 
generation of hydroxyl radicals by depleted uranium in vitro exceeds 
radiolytic generation by one million-fold...."

         There is no sentence in the Abstract that is in any way similar to 
the one Salsman quotes, nor is there any sentence in the paper that is 
similar to it.  Salsman’s quote appears to be a patchwork quilt of two or 
three sentences from the Abstract.

This study was published in 2002 (accepted, Feb. 2002), and is a laboratory 
study on the effects of DU.  In their introduction, the authors state that 
because of its low specific activity DU is “not believed to be a 
significant radiation hazard.”


         On March 4, James Salsman also wrote:

“What, then, is the proper tact [sic] to take, when the peer-reviewed 
literature is increasingly clear that dozens of those who were supposed to 
have been responsible have in fact been criminally negligent, resulting in 
not only harm of the reproductive health of our armed forces and their 
civilian families, but the resulting
effect on enlistment rates and thus national security?

         “This is not a job for polemic couched in any kind of 
courtesy.  This is a time for action. Those responsible must be held 

My Questions:

         Mr. Salsman:  How many of the quotes you offered did you read from 
the primary source material?  Or, did you collect these quotes from one or 
more anti-DU sources and merely reproduce them here?

         How do any of these papers show criminal negligence?  (I believe 
that is a legal term, not an epidemiological term.)  It seems likely that 
the allegation of “harm [to] reproductive health” is still a matter of 
debate, along with most or all of the other allegations of harm.

         Can it be shown that enlistment rates have fallen as a result of 
DU exposure?  If any studies of this have been published, please give 
citations to the primary source material.

         This is not a question, but as far as ‘polemics’ are concerned, I 
believe you were the one who made an accusation about a person (or persons) 
un-named being “cowardly.”  (You wrote, “What does it say about their 
regard for the men and women serving in the United States armed forces that 
these so-called professionals and their colleagues have not already been 
asking these questions? Are they so cowardly that they feel it more 
important to depend on a poison with as-yet-unknown long-term effects than 
to take personal responsibility for their actions?”)

Steven Dapra
sjd at swcp.com

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