[ RadSafe ] Norm Cohen's Oct. 4 anti-DU posting

Steven Dapra sjd at swcp.com
Sun Oct 7 16:25:44 CDT 2007

Oct. 2, 2007

	The abstract below was published in Health Physics.  The citation is 
86(1):12-18; Jan. 2004.  The abstract was posted here by Norm Cohen on Oct. 
4, with the comment "Hi Radsafer's; though [sic] you might find this study 
interesting."  Since he posted an abstract (not a study), and since Norm 
didn't provide a citation to the study, I don't know how he expected anyone 
to find the study, let alone read it.  (More about that later.)  Perhaps a 
little more to the point, this study has no ammunition for Norm's 
anti-depleted uranium campaign.

	According to the Introduction (p. 12),  "Exposure to DU by other routes 
[than shrapnel], such as inhalation, ingestion ,or wound contamination by 
DU particles, has been difficult to detect due to the low sensitivity of 
whole body radiation counting for DU [citation omitted].  Moreover, the 
normal exposure of all people to natural uranium in their food and water 
gives rise to low-level urine uranium concentrations in both DU-exposed and 
non-exposed populations, confounding the interpretation of biomonitoring 
results."  The authors go on to describe the difficulties of detecting 
U-235 in the laboratory.

	This was a small study (n=56) of Gulf War veterans.  Seventeen veterans 
were exposed by shrapnel, 28 had no shrapnel but "may have been exposed" to 
DU dust via inhalation, ingestion, and/or wound contamination during some 
friendly fire incidents.  A reference group of 12 was not known to have 
been exposed to DU.

	On page 17, col. 2, the authors write:  "Urine uranium concentrations in 
DU-exposed soldiers without shrapnel examined in this study are within the 
normal range for the U.S. population [citation omitted] and do not 
correspond to levels reflective of a physiological impairment based on 
health outcome studies of uranium exposed miners and millers [citation 
omitted].  Further, clinically significant health effects related to DU 
exposure are not apparent even in the more highly exposed soldiers with 
shrapnel, although some biologically plausible early markers of potential 
effects have been observed [citation omitted]."

	In summary, this study was not about the real or alleged health effects of 
DU, it was about the difficulties of detecting DU, and it described new 
method of detecting it.

	Okay --- enough of that.

	The germane portion of Norm's posting read:  "Detection of depleted 
uranium in urine of veterans from the 1991 Gulf War.  Gwiazda RH, Squibb K, 
McDiarmid M, Smith D. Environmental Toxicology, University of California, 
Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA. gwiazda at etox.ucsc.edu".

	From this, one could easily get the impression that the study was 
published in Environmental Toxicology, and that is what I assumed.  After 
some ten minutes of fruitlessly searching the ET website, I did a Google 
search for the paper by its title and that is when I discovered that it was 
published in Health Physics.  Apparently (and I emphasize the word 
apparently) Norm was poking around on the Internet and happened upon this 
abstract on an anti-DU website and cut and pasted the whole thing to 
RADSAFE.  The reason the words "Environmental Toxicology" appear is that 
the lead author, R. H. Gwiazda, was in the *department* of Environmental 
Toxicology at UC Santa Cruz when he co-authored the paper.

Steven Dapra
sjd at swcp.com

As posted by Norm Cohen:

Detection of depleted uranium in urine of veterans from the 1991 Gulf War.
Gwiazda RH, Squibb K, McDiarmid M, Smith D.
Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064,
USA. gwiazda at etox.ucsc.edu
American soldiers involved in "friendly fire" accidents during the 1991 Gulf
War were injured with depleted-uranium-containing fragments or possibly
exposed to depleted uranium via other routes such as inhalation, ingestion,
and/or wound contamination. To evaluate the presence of depleted uranium in
these soldiers eight years later, the uranium concentration and depleted
uranium content of urine samples were determined by inductively coupled
plasma mass spectrometry in (a) depleted uranium exposed soldiers with
embedded shrapnel, (b) depleted uranium exposed soldiers with no shrapnel,
and (c) a reference group of deployed soldiers not involved in the friendly
fire incidents. Uranium isotopic ratios measured in many urine samples
injected directly into the inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer and
analyzed at a mass resolution m/delta m of 300 appeared enriched in 235U
with respect to natural abundance (0.72%) due to the presence of an
interference of a polyatomic molecule of mass 234.81 amu that was resolved
at a mass resolution m/delta m of 4,000. The 235U abundance measured on
uranium separated from these urines by anion exchange chromatography was
clearly natural or depleted. Urine uranium concentrations of soldiers with
shrapnel were higher than those of the two other groups, and 16 out of 17
soldiers with shrapnel had detectable depleted uranium in their urine. In
depleted uranium exposed soldiers with no shrapnel, depleted uranium was
detected in urine samples of 10 out of 28 soldiers. The median uranium
concentration of urines with depleted uranium from soldiers without shrapnel
was significantly higher than in urines with no depleted uranium, though
substantial overlap in urine uranium concentrations existed between the two
groups. Accordingly, assessment of depleted uranium exposure using urine
must rely on uranium isotopic analyses, since urine uranium concentration is
not an unequivocal indicator of depleted uranium presence in soldiers with
no embedded shrapnel.

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