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Depleted uranium is causing an epidemic in cancer cases in Iraq, John Pilger reports.  

John Pilger, The Guardian:

An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr teaching hospital in Basra, Dr Ali told me that in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable. "Before the Gulf war," he said, "we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48% of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years' time to begin with, then long after. That's almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here....
...
Among the doctors I interviewed, there was little doubt that depleted uranium shells used by the Americans and British in the Gulf war were the cause.
...
A WHO report, the result of a landmark study conducted with the Iraqi ministry of health, has been "delayed". Covering 10,800 households, it contains "damning evidence", says a ministry official and, according to one of its researchers, remains "top secret". The report says birth defects have risen to a "crisis"....
I guess it's only rates as a crisis if the corporate media decide it is. How many hours were devoted to a cruise ship with bad toilets? And how much for Iraqis suffering from a pandemic caused by deliberate policy.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow, this is mostly from the first Gulf War, when (12+ / 0-)

    we created the "Road of Death"

    Man, I wonder if this is going to start happening in Afghanistan, I saw lots of rounds shot into the side of mountains at very high rates of fire.  I wondered if they were depleted uranium and how it might affect things like drinking water.

    "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

    by ranger995 on Sun May 26, 2013 at 08:56:12 PM PDT

  •  Depleted Uranium is a business creating death. (7+ / 0-)

    Do not adjust your mind, there is a flaw in reality.

    by Shrew in Shrewsbury on Sun May 26, 2013 at 09:32:21 PM PDT

  •  When the wind blows, (4+ / 0-)

    and stirs the dust, into the air,

    as it often does, in a dry land, the dust rises,
    and the dust often carries with it a deadly particle,

    of depleted Uranium,
    the tank killing shells, which were used so frequently, were often made out of depleted uranium.  

    "Before the Gulf war," he said, "we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48% of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years' time to begin with, then long after. That's almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here....

    Time is a long river.

    by phonegery on Mon May 27, 2013 at 12:48:38 AM PDT

  •  This has been known for a while. (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for bringing this back to attention.

    This only addresses cancer. There were rampant birth defects being reported back in the early '90's. Any further information on that?

    "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

    by CanisMaximus on Mon May 27, 2013 at 12:53:34 AM PDT

  •  Some skepticism is warranted here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

    There is little if any objective evidence of high cancer rates attributable to depleted uranium. There is, however, a vast body of evidence demonstrating high cancer rates among folks exposed to petrochemicals, particularly in childhood. Remember all those horrible images of wells in Kuwait and southern Iraq belching oil, the vast clouds of inky black smoke from the oil field fires set by Saddam's retreating troops? Then there's exposure to contaminated water, high explosive residues, fumes from fires of all kinds.

    There is also a small but persuasive body of evidence pointing to high cancer rates in folks exposed to the insane psychic stress of warfare, regardless of any exposure to toxins.

    Unlike toxic petrochemicals, depleted uranium is insanely dense, and tends to sit where it was initially deposited, rather than flowing into the water table and air. There is an understandable revulsion for depleted uranium because of its nominal (though largely false) association with radiation and nuclear weapons. But there are plenty of reasons for a spike in cancer and birth defect rates in Iraq that have nothing to do with DU.

    The Guardian article is filled with questionable unsupported assertions and flat out falsehoods. For example, the statement that each round from the A-10 Warthog's 30 mm gun contained 4500 grams of depleted uranium is absurd. 4500 grams is over ten pounds. A complete 30 mm round weighs less than a pound, and much less than half of that would be depleted uranium. So that's an exaggeration by a factor of 20 x or more.

    Objective evidence of an explosion in birth defects and cancers in Iraq as opposed to assertions is hard to come by. And the attribution of any such epidemic to depleted uranium, as opposed to the millions of tons of proven carcinogens like petrochemicals that saturated the Iraqis' environment, is misplaced nuclear fear-mongering.

    •  The weight of 4500 grams is obviously a typo (0+ / 0-)

      That is the weight of a 120 mm DU tank round.

      Here's what was used in Iraq

      Review of Radioactivity, Military Use, and Health Effects of Depleted Uranium
      6. COMBAT AND ACCIDENTS
      6.1 DU Ammunition Use in Iraq

      The amount of DU munitions released in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm are summarized in Table 6 from [75]. In addition, 9,720 DU aircraft rounds and 660 DU tank rounds (14,170 lb. or 6,430 kg of DU) burned as a result of monstrous fire in the ammunition storage area and motor pool of the US Army base at Doha, Kuwait [54], [72].

      Slightly higher estimates for expended DU ammunition are found [33]: 940,000 DU aircraft rounds and 14,000 DU tank rounds were expended during the war. Out of the total DU tank rounds, 7,000 were fired during training before the war into sand dunes in Saudi Arabia, 4,000 were fired during combat; and 3,000 were lost due to fires or accidents. Therefore, a total of 670,000 - 750,000 lb. (305 - 340 metric tons) of DU was released, for a total activity of 324 - 361 Ci and a-activity of 119 - 132 Ci.

      Totals       Rounds      Weight
      Tanks       9,640         112,473
      Aircraft      850,950     536,745

      Firing hundreds of tons of DU into third world countries is a great way to dispose of this by-product of making nuclear weapons. NIMBA makes it next to impossible to dispose the stuff within the US.
      •  Gotta compare that to background radiation. (0+ / 0-)

        Sure, there were some microcuries in all that DU.

        But how does that compare to existing background radiation? Without that information, it's a useless factoid. I'd be willing to bet all that DU wouldn't represent much of a blip on the chart compared to background exposure.

        Understand, I'm not arguing for an instant that we don't owe the Iraqi people a hell of a lot more than a pat on the back and a Shiite oligarchy after the horrific civil war we sparked. After, you know, invading their country under false pretenses. And killing at least 100,000 of them. The Bush/Cheney government (and Bush I, and Clinton) are also responsible for the starvation and malnutrition of an entire generation of Iraqi children.

        I just think that the demonization of DU on dubious scientific grounds misses a lot more really horrible things the U.S. is responsible for.

  •  And, as I've said from the beginning of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, blueoasis

    the IED strikes against US soldiers, we're going to see a massive outbreak of cancer in all those veterans who were hit by shrapnel loaded with depleted uranium.

    "Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor's mailbox." -- Willie Stargell

    by Yasuragi on Mon May 27, 2013 at 04:47:13 AM PDT

  •  Don't blame the media (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib
    I guess it's only rates as a crisis if the corporate media decide it is. How many hours were devoted to a cruise ship with bad toilets? And how much for Iraqis suffering from a pandemic caused by deliberate policy.
    The fault does not lie with the media.  They mainly report on stories that are of interest to us.  And we are mainly interested in matters that pertain to us personally.  There are no depleted uranium shells in our neighborhoods, so they are no threat to us.  But we might consider getting on a cruise ship someday, and not having toilet access would be horrible.  It is for similar reasons that days were spent covering the Boston marathon bombing, but reports of suicide bombs going off somewhere in the Middle East will only warrant brief mention, if at all; for Boston is us, but the Middle East is them, and we don’t care much about them.

    Now, for all I know, you may not be guilty of this egocentric attitude, but I am, and so are most of us.  In fact, if I am watching the nightly news, and I see in the introduction that there is going to be special coverage of something going on overseas, I will very often change channels to avoid being bored.  So, don’t blame the media.  Blame me and people like me.

  •  Whats the cancer rate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, OleHippieChick, WakeUpNeo

    for Iraq war vets? Is an increase linked to multiple deployments if so then Depleted Uranium and or oil might be the cause. Regardless more study is needed. All vets heck everyone should get free healthcare.

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