Fwd: [ RadSafe ] Explanation for Gulf War illness?

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Mon Jun 2 11:30:52 CDT 2008

Has anybody asked Prof. Domingo whether or not he believes that DU
inhaled on the battlefield in Iraq causes birth defects?  We know which
university he is at; his email can't be that hard to find.  

Now, even if Domingo says that he does not agree with JS, that does not
mean JS will quit citing Domingo's papers in support his arguments.  I
have in the past contacted the author of a paper that was being used by
and activist, and had the author completely agree that the research in
no way supported the activist's position.  When I shared the author's
email with the activist he told me that the author was wrong, and the
paper said pretty much whatever the activist wanted it to say. 

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Behalf Of Steven Dapra
Sent: Sunday, June 01, 2008 7:19 PM
To: radsafelist
Subject: Re: Fwd: [ RadSafe ] Explanation for Gulf War illness?

June 1, 2008

	In an attempt to buttress his claims about the alleged dangers
of exposure to depleted uranium (DU), James Salsman has frequently
invoked a review paper by JL Domingo.  Thanks to the generosity of an
anonymous RADSAFE member, I now have a copy of this paper and will
present some comments on it.  The full title of Domingo's paper is
"Reproductive and developmental toxicity of natural and depleted
uranium: a review," [Reproductive Toxicology; 15 (2001) 603-609].  [I
have omitted all citations in the following critique of Domingo (2001).]

	Domingo begins his Introduction by noting that "until recently
there was a lack of published observations regarding uranium-induced
reproductive and developmental toxic effects," and says that in 1987 a
program was begun in a laboratory at his university ("Rovira i Virgili"
University in Spain) to fill in the "gaps" regarding U toxicity in
mammals.  (He also studied the effects of chelating agents on treating U
exposure.)  He (and presumably his co-workers) conducted a literature
search on the chemical toxic effects of U in mammals.  This search is
summarized in Table 1 (p. 604), and lists nine studies, seven of them on
mice, and two on rats.  Domingo was author or co-author of seven of the

	He briefly explains the separation process leading to DU, saying
that the "radiologic hazard of DU is less than that from natural or
enriched uranium," and notes that chemical toxicity occurs at lower
exposure levels than does radiologic toxicity.  He goes on to say that
one exception in inhalation exposure, where the main concern in
increased cancer risk.  He then introduces Gulf War Syndrome, describing
it as "a poorly understood disease with multiple symptoms and with
diversified theories about etiology and pathogenesis."  In support of
this, Domingo cites three papers, two of them by A. Durakovic, who has
appeared on RADSAFE before, when (in 2006) Salsman invoked one of the
Durakovic papers Domingo cites to support Salsman's claim that DU is
harmful.  Domingo acknowledges that a Presidential advisory panel stated
in 1996 that "there was no evidence of a connection between DU and Gulf
war illnesses."  (Quoting from Domingo, and not from the panel.)  This
brings us to the end of p. 604 of Domingo.

	He begins p. 605 with a brief discussion of an airplane wreck in
the Netherlands in 1992.  The plane used DU counterweights, and people
in the crash area attributed their subsequent health problems to the DU.
A risk analysis was performed; and, says Domingo, the "conclusion was
that it was improbable that DU was responsible for the [health]

	Next, Domingo cites a 2001 article in the Lancet whose
conclusion Domingo summarizes as being "at any conceivable level of
uptake, DU would have no appreciable radiologic or chemical carcinogenic
potential."  He also says that tumors in the past decade in the former
Yugoslavia "cannot" be attributed to DU, and that the only expected
effects would be "reversible damage" to the kidney.  Domingo ends the
Introduction by citing the "very few data" about the reproductive
effects of DU: a mere two studies, on rats.

	In his discussion of the reproductive toxicity of U, Domingo
says that information on this is "scarce," and that most reproductive
effects of U are based on its chemical effect and not on its radioactive
effects.  He describes a study on male Swiss rats that was conducted in
his laboratory, and says that U exposure either had no effect, or that
the observed effect could be attributed to other causes.  (All of this
is from p. 605.)

	Under maternal and embryo/fetal toxicity of uranium, Domingo
says that according to MEDLINE only two references to such studies are
available, and that both of these studies were performed in his
laboratory.  It appears that one or two of Domingo's mouse studies has
shown some teratogenic effects.  Domingo does not dwell on this, and
seems to spend most of his time discussing the lack of adverse effects
on the kidney.  This is only reasonable, as he stated in the
Introduction that the kidney is the first organ to be affected.

	In his closing Assessment, Domingo notes that the UNSCEAR has
established that the limits on natural U in drinking water be based on
its "chemical toxicity for the kidney rather than on a hypothetical
radiologic toxicity for skeletal tissue."  (Quoting Domingo, not the
UNSCEAR.)  In his penultimate sentence, Domingo says, "Finally, it is
important to note that, to date, most studies on uranium-induced
developmental toxicity have been performed in mice."  (According to his
Table 1, the other studies were in

	So, yes, it's true --- DU in the form of uranyl acetate
dihydrate appears to be teratogenic, at least in certain strains of
laboratory mice and rats.  It's also true that not much work has been
done an attempt to duplicate these findings.  (I imagine the evil
military-industrial complex is derailing any such proposed work.)

	Much more to the point, laboratory mice and rats are not being
exposed to DU in the Balkans, nor are they being exposed to DU in the
Middle East.  Humans are, however whether or not results in laboratory
mice and rats can be extrapolated to humans is still a matter of debate.
Hence, although James Salsman may be correct about the teratogenicity of
DU, he is correct only in a very narrow sense.  At present, I do not
consider that very narrow sense to be applicable to much of anything
that pertains to human health and safety.

Steven Dapra

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