[ RadSafe ] Fwd: ruling out uranium vapor with x-rays

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Tue Apr 22 19:10:13 CDT 2008


>> DU (should there be health effects, which is not strongly in

>Which part isn't strongly in evidence?

The part where there is evidence that that there is a health effect,
rather than speculation that there may be a health effect.  But you
missed the point of the sentence:

>>I would contend that the population effected by DU (should there be
health effects, which is not strongly in evidence) is quite small
compared to the population effected by a number of health risks that
also effect the possibly exposed population in ways that clearly are of
greater risk than DU.

This was part of my answer to your contention: "health effects from DU
are unique because of the population they affect, and the impact that
population has on military readiness and homeland security. Can a nation
be secure when its enlisted corps are subject to suffer long-term
genetic damage during prolonged conflict?"

I contend, again, that the numbers of people exposed to DU in "a typical
battlefield inhalation scenario" (your words) are small, that DU is not
nearly their highest risk factor (certainly not short term, and probably
not long term), and most of them are not Americans, which negates your
concern about homeland security.  For those who are not American, if
they were in a legitimate target the intent was to kill them, and as
such their long-term health is not a material consideration.  For those
civilians that get trapped on battlefields, my heart goes out to them,
but I have doubts that their over-all risk is greater because DU
projectiles are being used than if they are not.

Concerning whether "chromosome damage" from UO3 inhalation is heritable,
an experiment where "both male and female rats fed 2% uranium(VI)
nitrate hexahydrate" as a surrogate for inhalation of uranium is barely
more reasonable than shooting somebody in the leg as a surrogate for
inhaling leaded gasoline fumes.  Further, "fewer litters and fewer pups
per litter" are not strong indicators of "chromosome damage".  It is far
easier to kill sperm and ova than it is to damage the genetic material
enough to cause mutations exceeding background in either rate or effect.

I am glad you feel that small arms nonproliferation programs are
important.  Do you believe that DU is so much more important that you
should strive to get the public's attention and the policy makers'
actions, both of which are limited in supply, focused on DU and not on
eliminating that kill and terrorize people real time?

>I can not answer because the effect of uranium smoke inhalation has
never been measured in an empirical study.  Why hasn't it?

Perhaps because, in the opinion of many of the most knowledgeable people
in the field, there isn't supporting evidence that it is a significant
health issue.  Yes, I know, the experts can be wrong.  The non-experts
can be wrong, too.  The more the non-experts assert that their positions
must be right because they feel strongly that they are, the less
inclined the experts usually feel that they should give the non-expert's
opinions credence. 

-----Original Message-----
From: jsalsman at gmail.com [mailto:jsalsman at gmail.com] On Behalf Of Dave
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 4:17 AM
To: Brennan, Mike (DOH); radsafelist
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Fwd: ruling out uranium vapor with x-rays


Thank you for your thoughtful reply

> DU (should there be health effects, which is not strongly in evidence)

Which part isn't strongly in evidence?

Genotoxicity?  Even those on who didn't include the genotoxic nature of
uranium in their reviews in from 1960 to 2003 now admit that uranium is
both genotoxic and causes congenital malformations at levels easily
likely in a typical battlefield exposure to uranium smoke in a DU fire
Such exposures could increase the risk of birth defects several times
over, a decade down the road.

Do you think a typical battlefield inhalation scenario is unlikely to
involve clinical amounts of chemical toxicity?  The Army says that the
chemical generation of DNA-damaging hydroxyl ions is a million times
that of its radiological generation.  A million times more chemically
toxic to DNA than it is radiologically hazardous to DNA!

Germ cell accumulation?  For more than half a century there have been
published reports stating that both male and female rats fed 2%
uranium(VI) nitrate hexahydrate for only 24 hours have fewer litters and
fewer pups per litter (Maynard, et al. (1953) "Oral toxicity of uranium
compounds" in: Voegtlin and Hodge, eds., "Pharmacology and Toxicology of
Uranium Compounds" Vol. III (McGraw Hill) pp. 1121-1369.) A single day!

All of the epidemiologists and toxicologists who have written on the
matter in peer reviewed journals say that uranium exposure causes birth
defects.  Until four years ago, none of the persons charged with judging
the safety of DU munitions considered it one way or another.

Does anyone have any evidence to the contrary?

> So why the fixation with DU, rather than spending the same effort 
> trying to stir up pressure to get China (and other, mostly former 
> Eastern Block,
> countries) to stop selling AK-47 ammo?

There are already small arms nonproliferation programs with established
constituencies, fund raising, leadership, goals, and regular lobbying.
Two of the organizations I give money to, Amnesty International and the
Vietnam Veterans Association's Campaign for a Landmine Free World have
both been active in small arms nonproliferation efforts.

>> 2.  At what concentration of UO3 in the air do you consider it to no 
>> longer be of concern?
> You didn't answer the question.  Give us a number, in mass or activity

> per unit volume.  Then we can discuss as to whether or not it is a 
> reasonable number.

I can not answer because the effect of uranium smoke inhalation has
never been measured in an empirical study.  Why hasn't it?

James Salsman, as Dave Blaine

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