What is Depleted Uranium (DU)?
Depleted uranium is what is left over when most of the highly radioactive types (isotopes) of uranium are removed for use as nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons. DU is used in armor-piercing munitions and in enhanced armor protection for military vehicles.
DU is chemically toxic. It is an extremely dense, hard metal, and can cause chemical poisoning to the body in the same way as can lead or any other heavy metal. Depleted uranium is also radiologically hazardous, as it spontaneously burns on impact, creating tiny aerosolized glass particles. These uranium oxide particles emit all types of radiation, alpha, beta and gamma, and can be carried in the air over long distances. Depleted uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, and the presence of depleted uranium ceramic aerosols can pose a long-term threat to human health and the environment.
How does DU get into the body?
DU weapons when fired and especially upon impact create micro-fine particles that can be inhaled, enter wounds, absorbed into food and contaminate the water supply. Military issued gas masks cannot filter these particles.
What are the effects on humans of using DU weaponry?
Serious long-term effects include:
compromised immune system
metabolic, respiratory and renal diseases
DU poisoning is not curable
Why is DU’s use a war crime?
· DU weaponry meets the definition of weapons of mass destruction in two of three categories under U.S. Federal Code Title 50 Chapter 40 Section 2302
· DU weaponry violates all international treaties and agreements, Hague and Geneva war conventions, the 1925 Geneva gas protocol, U.S. laws and U.S. military law.
Since 1991, the U.S. has released the radioactive atomicity equivalent of at least 40,000 Nagasaki bombs into the global atmosphere. That is 10 times the amount released during atmospheric testing which was the equivalent of 40,000 Hiroshima bombs. The U.S. has permanently contaminated the global atmosphere with radioactive pollution having a half-life of 2.5 billion years
What can you do?
Write, email, fax you Senators and Representatives in Congress and urge them to:
1. STOP the use of Depleted Uranium weapons
2. Sufficiently test ALL soldiers who have had the possibility of exposure to DU
3. GET INVOLVED Find your local group involved in education and activism around the issues of depleted uranium or introduce DU as a focus point in your existing organization
To find out more about Depleted Uranium check out these sites:
Depleted Uranium Education Project: www.iacenter.org/depleted/du.htm
Depleted Uranium Watch: www.stopnato.org.uk/du-watch
Campaign Against Depleted Uranium: www.cadu.org.uk
International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons: www.bandepleteduranium.org
Uranium Medical Research Centre: www.umrc.net
Depleted Uranium Oversight Board: www.duob.org.uk
American Gulf War Veterans Association: www.gulfwarvets.com