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Sky News is reporting that the number of Iraqi babies born with deformities has continued to rise since a heavy US-led bombing campaign in Fallujah.

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An Iraqi doctor has told Sky News the number of babies born with deformities in the heavily-bombed area of Fallujah is still on the increase.

...Concerns were that the rise in deformities may have been linked to the use of chemical weapons by US forces.

...There are a wide range of problems - from abnormalities of the abdomen to facial disfigurements.

Part one

As there have been 200 recorded cases of Iraqi children born with deformities in Fallujah, the families have called for an independent investigation into the matter, which they believe is being caused by the US Army's use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium.

Sky News recently reported on families in the Iraqi city of Fallujah who are calling for an independent investigation into their concerns about a rise in the number of newborn babies suffering from deformities.

...Hikmat Tawfeeq, deputy chairman of the Fallujah-based human rights group Alakhiyar said: "We have around 200 cases of deformities recorded by our society. Most of these birth deformities started appearing after the war in Iraq."

...Campaigners say officials are reluctant to speak out publicly but at Fallujah's Children's Hospital one doctor told us in the past month she's seen one or two cases of birth deformities every day.

Part two

Iraqi doctors believe that depleted uranium is causing cancer and birth defects.

Although the Pentagon has sent mixed signals about the effects of depleted uranium, Iraqi doctors believe that it is responsible for a significant increase in cancer and birth defects in the region. Many researchers outside Iraq, and several U.S. veterans organizations, agree; they also suspect depleted uranium of playing a role in Gulf War Syndrome, the still-unexplained malady that has plagued hundreds of thousands of Gulf War veterans.

As much as 70 percent of the projectile can burn up on impact, creating a firestorm of ceramic DU oxide particles. The residue of this firestorm is an extremely fine ceramic uranium dust that can be spread by the wind, inhaled and absorbed into the human body and absorbed by plants and animals, becoming part of the food chain. Once lodged in the soil, the munitions can pollute the environment and create up to a hundredfold increase in uranium levels in ground water, according to the U.N. Environmental Program.

The U.S. Army acknowledges the hazards in a training manual, in which it requires that anyone who comes within 25 meters of any DU-contaminated equipment or terrain wear respiratory and skin protection, and states that "contamination will make food and water unsafe for consumption."

The documentary Beyond Treason, released in 2005, takes a look at the history of the use of depeted uranium munitions.

Update: A field investigation in Iraq by German and Canadian scientists found evidence of a new class of uranium weapons including "bunker buster" bombs which contain 236U. Their story was told in the German documentary The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium, and the Dying Children.

An award winning documentary film produced for German television by Freider Wagner and Valentin Thurn. The film exposes the use and impact of radioactive weapons during the current war against Iraq. The story is told by citizens of many nations. It opens with comments by two British veterans, Kenny Duncan and Jenny Moore, describing their exposure to radioactive, so-called depleted uranium (DU), weapons and the congenital abnormalities of their children. Dr. Siegwart-Horst Gunther, a former colleague of Albert Schweitzer, and Tedd Weyman of the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) traveled to Iraq, from Germany and Canada respectively, to assess uranium contamination in Iraq.

Originally posted to The Anomaly on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 06:15 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (26+ / 0-)

    Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the Anomaly revealed as both beginning...and end.

    by The Anomaly on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 06:15:57 AM PDT

  •  Wasn't "white phosphorous" and not (11+ / 0-)

    depleted uranium used at Fallujah?

    Which would be more supportive of your title from several standpoints:

    1. white phosphorous is more legitimately regarded as a "chemical" weapon than DU
    1. the health hazards of DU for the general population are not supported in the peer reviewed literature.
    •  That's what I thought too (6+ / 0-)

      I remember the diaries about that when it happened. Nasty stuff.

    •  While You're Right (7+ / 0-)

      The longterm effects of 'DU' aren't yet known, this is pointed out in the report from Sky as to circumstancial evidence right now as to the 'white phosphorus', and signs point to the detrimental use of, keep checking who's doin those peer reviews.

      "The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable and am radio."

      by jimstaro on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 06:29:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess the definition of "long term" can be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        C Barr

        disputed - but based on evidence from the first gulf war, the only persons who suffered ill effects were those that were in vehicles actually hit by DU munitions or persons who were assigned to clean up these vehicles afterwards.  The former people were mostly dead (from the explosion) and the latter numbered in the dozens.

        I have seen picture from Iraq 2 where children were playing on burned out war vehicles, which could very well have been contaminated with deleterious levels of DU (but that obviously would not lead to the current topic of birth defects . . ..).

        The claims that clouds of DU contaminated the environment, water, food chain, etc just aren't credible based on detailed studies done from the Kosovo conflict (where, apparently, it was easier to conduct rigorous scientific surveys in the aftermath compared to Saddam's Iraq).

    •  DU is in most projectiles (5+ / 0-)

      ...not because it's toxic, but because it's extremely heavy. DU slugs and shells are used in most of our ordinance. It's not considered a "chemical weapon;" it is loaded and used in everything from 25mm cannon to sabot shells in the Abrams main gun.

      WP is often used as an incendiary weapon. Like DU, no special permission is required to fire it.

      "I was never one of those that said Eisenhower was a Commie." -Amos Bush

      by Tom Seaview on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 06:45:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  DU munitions are mostly used against (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        C Barr

        armored vehicles.

        Which did not figure prominently in the Fallujah assault - therefore there was not real military reason to use them there (of course, I have no knowledge of whether they were used or not for whatever superflous reason that might have arisen).

        •  Just want to comment here that depleted uranium (6+ / 0-)

          is a waste product of the nuclear industry.  Follow the money.  Weapons manufacturers need wars to move inventory.  Seems that a lot of the reason for the Iraq war was to funnel the U.S. treasury into the pockets of corporations.  That alone is reason to use depleted uranium munitions and turn a waste product into a cash cow.  

          moderation in everything ... including moderation

          by C Barr on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 07:12:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  U.S. was accused of using... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy, Unduna, testvet6778

          ...white phosphorus indiscriminately in Fallujah.

          The US military admits to using the weapon to illuminate battlefields in Iraq, and says it did so in Fallujah, but insists it did not use it in civilian areas.

          Link to Christian Science Monitor article

          There seems to be some photographic evidence that the white phosporus did injure civilians.

          The Sky News article linked above quotes an official as saying they have only anecdotal evidence about increases in deformities. I would need more numbers before I would write the incendiary title "Bombshell - Iraqi Children Deformed from US Chemical Weapons" , but that's me.

          •  Willie Pete is more well known for it's severe (4+ / 0-)

            burns it puts on people hit with it, it burns thru bofy parts where it lands  arms, legs, torso's I have never heard about   birth defects being caused by long term exposure to it,  Vietnam where it was widely used  saw more people burned from  WP rounds  I never heard about deformed births in Vietnam except from people exposed to Agent Orange.... they still have babies being born with birth defects where there were large spills in the storage areas where they loaded it on planes and helicopters for spraying   the half life of the toxic material is decades.....

          •  A better title would simply be (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            marina, truong son traveler

            "Iraqi Children Deformed from US Weapons"

            that much is indisputable. You know, from the primary explosions and the "routine" aftermath, such as inhalation of smoke (which contains numerous carcinogens) or contamination of the environment with lead (which like DU, is a heavy metal, and causes damage in somewhat the same way . . ..).

            All that ought to be horrific enough to generate outrage. But I suppose that in this day and age the word "chemical" adds some sizzle to the whole thing . . . . after all, the petroleum and paint industries spent decades contaminating our environment with lead, so that's rather routine now.

            •  title revised, thanks n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the Anomaly revealed as both beginning...and end.

              by The Anomaly on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 09:42:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

                Like discussed below, *everything* is chemical in nature so I suppose the original title was accurate - however, as also discussed, the term "chemical weapon" has distinct legal connotations by way of international treaties.  

                Not that we care much about our international obligations anymore . . .

        •  Soldiers are ingenious (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unduna, esquimaux, testvet6778, C Barr

          Soldiers will adapt the weapons they have to the problems at hand.  They have always been quick to use anti-tank weapons against buildings, from the wheeled anti-tank guns of the Werhmacht, to the RPG found everywhere today.  I once heard a story from the later days of the Vietnam War about a helicopter knocking over a guard tower by shooting each leg with a TOW missile, one after the other.

          We pretty much demolished Fallujah, so our guys would have used anything that could penetrate a wall.

        •  My point is... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          truong son traveler

          ...that DU is used in various ammunition without regard for its toxicity.
          The guns on the A-10 Warthog, for example, fire DU bullets. The military never reloads that weapon with non-DU rounds. Close air support from a Warthog, whether their target is a tank, a building, or a Toyota pickup, always delivers depleted uranium.
          Similarly, the sabot slugs in the Abrams tank, and the heavy machine gun bullets on the Bradley, are always DU. If a Bradley fires its main gun at someone, they fire depleted uranium. When Abrams tank gunners want to knock down a wall, they often use DU sabot slugs because they will penetrate several feet of reinforced concrete.

          On the Abrams tank, in particular, they often fire whatever happens to be in the gun when a target is encountered. In battle, they would fire the gun to unload it, then load it with the preferred munition.

          My son, a tank driver, recounted one incident during a battle in March 2003 when a civilian Toyota stumbled into the field of fire, heading toward the tanks. His tank swiveled its gun and fired its loaded shell, which happened to be a DU sabot slug, straight through the car from front to back. The shell, which in his words "frappéed" the unarmed family inside, bounced off the road and toward the nearby town... apparently damaging a civilian dwelling.
          I say "apparently" because, some time later as the battle raged on, an Iraqi family came onto the battlefield, carrying a damaged Abrams sabot slug that had probably leaked enough radioactive material to kill them all within weeks.
          This time, the shell in his tank's gun was high explosive, so the radiation wasn't what killed them.

          "I was never one of those that said Eisenhower was a Commie." -Amos Bush

          by Tom Seaview on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 07:50:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  DU has been shown to cause DNA damage (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      C Barr

      A study was published in Chemical Research in Toxicology in 2007 which found an increased risk of cancer from DU.

      Depleted uranium, which is used in armour-piercing ammunition, causes widespread damage to DNA which could lead to lung cancer, according to a study of the metal's effects on human lung cells. The study adds to growing evidence that DU causes health problems on battlefields long after hostilities have ceased.

      ...Now researchers at the University of Southern Maine have shown that DU damages DNA in human lung cells. The team, led by John Pierce Wise, exposed cultures of the cells to uranium compounds at different concentrations.

      The compounds caused breaks in the chromosomes within cells and stopped them from growing and dividing healthily. "These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant [DNA damage] risk and could possibly result in lung cancer," the team wrote in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

      Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the Anomaly revealed as both beginning...and end.

      by The Anomaly on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 07:08:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your first sentence is a rather gross (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Giles Goat Boy

        misrepresentation of the results presented in this paper.

        Sure, the authors showed that DU exposure (at very high levels compared to environmental contamination from weapons use) can damage DNA.

        It is a HUGE leap from that observation to the development of cancer in humans.

        First, every nucleated cell in your body (all 10+ trillion or so of them) experiences about 100,000 instances of chemical damage to DNA each and every day; mostly from oxidative byproducts of normal metabolism.  This level is much higher than that caused by environment insult in almost all cases.  Luckily, mammals have a robust DNA repair mechanism that fixes all of this.

        In some cases, however, cell replicate while the DNA is still damaged, which can fix a mutation in place.  A very small fraction of these mutations can contribute to cancer - but only when they work in concert with complementary mutations.

        The bottom line is that it is plausibe that in a contrived laboratory setting, DU *could* contribute to cancer - in the "real world" however, it remains quite implausible (or at least, despite many studies, no proof has been obtained pointing in that direction).

        My suggestion would be to get scientific information from peer-reviewed sources such as Pubmed rather than the British media.

        And then read them carefully to avoid false conclusions - for example, by searching "depleted uranium AND cancer" the following link comes up high on the list:

        High prevalence of HER-2/neu overexpression in female breast cancer among an Iraqi population exposed to depleted uranium

        Sounds pretty damning, no?

        Well, if you read on, the conclusion of the study was:

        The findings indicate that in regions exposed to high levels of depleted uranium, HER-2/neu overexpression is high, but its correlation with age, grade, stage, tumor size, and lymph node involvement is similar to studies that have been conducted on populations not exposed to depleted uranium.

        Thus, DU is not to blame after all, despite the (strangely, for a scientific paper) inflammatory title.

  •  This picture is an "after" picture (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Unduna, C Barr, minerva1157, cdkipp

    This poor child had a huge tumor on her head and this is after the surgery. There are babies being born with two heads, and babies with distended bellies and a raft of other horrors. Most have abnormally sized heads.
    They seem to think it is the phosphorous. If this is true one can expect the same in Gaza to be happening within the next years as Israel used phosphorous during the last bombing there.

    The Justice Department is no longer a credible defender of the rule of law or the Constitution.

    by Overseas on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 06:37:59 AM PDT

  •  There was no media outburst... (0+ / 0-)

    When a story pointed out in 2006 that soldiers have been sickened also

    I am paranoid by nature, that's the way that I was born By any name you can be sure every rose will have its thorn.

    by Singing Lizard on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 06:45:55 AM PDT

  •  DU explosions produce very fine particles (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Unduna, C Barr

    as I understand it.

    We women's clinic volunteer escorts during the first Gulf War were very aware of the large number of war veteran couples who were looking forward to parenthood coming in for abortion because of massive fetal anomalies.

    We haven't heard anything about "Gulf War Syndrome" this time, but we will.  It is reasonable to suspect DU which should be banned by any civilized country.

  •  looking forward, not backward, blah blah blah (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, Unduna

    The sad but true fact is that nobody really cares about this. Well, a few people do, but nobody in power does, and 99+% of Americans have zero interest in even thinking about war-time atrocities, let alone doing anything about them.

    In all seriousness, if there was videotape of US Marines shooting children for fun, and tallying up points on a big scoreboard, a solid majority of Americans would reflexively turn and run away rather than deal with it.

    So this stuff that might have, could have, possibly, probably, almost definitely, or definitely happened years ago in Fallujah or elsewhere in Iraq, and might, could, perhaps, surely, or almost certainly be causing birth defects and tumors and demonic possession years later? NOBODY CARES.

    .

    •  Yes, but there's a practical argument (0+ / 0-)

      Years after the first war against Iraq, almost 200,000 US veterans of that conflict had received disability ratings from the government, something like 1/3 of the troops involved.

      So how much valuable experience was thus lost to the military when it attacked Iraq again only 12 years later?  How many of the veterans of the current war will also come down with mysterious breathing impairments that preclude their participation in a war that really matters?  And who will be crazy enough to join the Army as every family comes to have an impaired veteran in it?

      It's bad enough that our voters and our military have to re-learn the hard lessons of war each time we get into one.  Wiping out two generations of combat veterans with our own weapons has to be considered the most costly military defeat we have suffered since since 1942.

  •  Oh come on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    furi kuri

    Depleted uranium projectiles are as much a "chemical" weapon as lead bullets are.

    Everything is composed of "chemicals," so, by the diarist's logic, all weapons are "chemical weapons."

    Isn't it true that chemical weapons fall into one of several categories?

    Choking agents
    Blister agents
    Blood agents
    Nerve agents
    Incapacitants
    Riot-control agents
    Herbicides

    DU and lead fall into none of these categories.

    DU and lead are used in projectiles because they are heavy and can penetrate materials such as armor. They are not used for their chemical properties, though either can be toxic and potentially carcinogenic above certain concentrations and rates of exposure.

    •  Heavy metal contamination (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      Whatever we use them for, many of the heavier metallic elements are already known to be health hazards on a purely chemical basis, and the semantic distinction does not alter our responsibility.

      But our military does not want research on health effects of uranium dust because that means giving away its special advantage.  Which encourages all other militaries to develop and use the same weapons, as always happens.  

      So I'll jettison the word "chemical" if you think "toxic" is an improvement.

      •  It's not semantics (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        furi kuri

        It's misleading.

        Chemical weapons are a class of weapons designed and intended, by their chemical composition, to have specific chemical effects on living things.

        DU and lead are not. They are designed and intended to have physical effects on either living things or armored objects.

        •  International law (0+ / 0-)

          So our government can't be sued like any corporation for exposing Americans and Iraqis to substances that it suspected were toxic?

          But when a government does it in a war, shouldn't that go into the territory of a war crime?  

  •  Jumping to a conclusion but those kids need (0+ / 0-)

    help. Are they seeing similar rates of birth defects in other cities? What was in Fallujah when it was bombed? What did parents had to eat and drink before and during pregnancy? What other toxic products were ingested and inhaled? There are sooo many things to take into consideration. To the parents and the kids, it almost doesn't matter. They need help, and lots of it.

    "You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead." - Stan Laurel

    by the fan man on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 07:44:49 AM PDT

  •  Uranium and birth defects in Punjab (0+ / 0-)

    As much as 60 times the safe limit of uranium has been found in the children of Punjab where a sharp increase in birth defects has taken place.

    Their heads are too large or too small, their limbs too short or too bent. For some, their brains never grew, speech never came and their lives are likely to be cut short: these are the children it appears that India would rather the world did not see, the victims of a scandal with potential implications far beyond the country's borders.

    Some sit mutely, staring into space, lost in a world of their own; others cry out, rocking backwards and forwards. Few have any real control over their own bodies. Their anxious parents fret over them, murmuring soft words of encouragement, hoping for some sort of miracle that will free them from a nightmare.

    Health workers in the Punjabi cities of Bathinda and Faridkot knew something was terribly wrong when they saw a sharp increase in the number of birth defects, physical and mental abnormalities, and cancers. They suspected that children were being slowly poisoned.

    But it was only when a visiting scientist arranged for tests to be carried out at a German laboratory that the true nature of their plight became clear. The results were unequivocal. The children had massive levels of uranium in their bodies, in one case more than 60 times the maximum safe limit.

    Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the Anomaly revealed as both beginning...and end.

    by The Anomaly on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 09:17:55 AM PDT

    •  That was a careful cut & paste job that (0+ / 0-)

      managed to obscure the source of the uranium contamination, which was from coal combustion.

      Which puts quite a different level of uranium (plus mercury, and so on) into the enviroment than weapons use:

      Compare:

      Weapons use:

      There is no dispute of the fact that at least 320 tons of depleted uranium (DU) was "lost" in the Gulf war

      link

      Coal combustion:

      Worldwide release (from combustion of 637,409 million tons):

      Uranium: 828,632 tons (containing 5883 tons of uranium-235)

      so, on the surface there is a huge different in quantity.

      Plus, depleted uranium (U238) essentially has no radiation hazard whereas the uranium found in coal contains a percent or so of U235 - which does pose a radiation hazard as well as having chemical toxicity.

      In a nutshell - anyone who's worried about the environment effects of weapons use of DU should absolutely be screaming their heads off about coal  . . .

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