Health consequences of exposure to depleted uranium weapons

Original title: Depleted science: health consequences and mechanisms of exposure to fallout from depleted uranium weapons. Contribution to international du conference hamburg oct 16-19th 2003.

Abstract: The problem of the health effects of exposure to material from Depleted Uranium weapons is part of a much larger argument. This is the question of the health effects on exposure to internal man-made radioactive materials. These substances, like Strontium-90, Caesium-137, Plutonium-239 etc. have been released routinely to the planetary environment since the first use of the atomic bomb in 1945. They have become incorporated into the food chain and exist in the air and water and now contaminate all living systems. Research into the effects of this has been discouraged by nuclear nations during and after the Cold War and evidence of their serious harmful effects, in the form of cancers and genetic problems has been routinely suppressed.

It is now fairly clear, from our research and that of others that the present cancer epidemic is largely a result of the exposure to weapons fallout which peaked in the period 1959-63 when atmospheric tests were banned by Presidents Kennedy and Kruschev. After the weapons fallout stopped, there were new sources of radioactive pollution, particularly the atomic fuel reprocessing plants at La Hague in France and Sellafield in the UK. Sellafield has contaminated the Irish Sea with Plutonium, Uranium and other fission isotopes, mostly the same as the weapons fallout isotopes. The results of our 3-year study of cancer in Wales and Ireland shows that people exposed to radioactive material from Sellafield washed ashore on the coast of the Irish Sea suffer significant excess risk of cancer. The trend with distance from the sea of airborne plutonium oxide particles is identical with the trend in cancer and this draws attention to errors in the present modelling of risk from these particles using the averaging model developed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). This model was recently questioned by a new independent committee, the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) whose new rational model distinguished between external and internal exposure. The report ECRR2003 calculated that over 60million people worldwide have died as a result of the releases of man-made radioactivity to the environment.

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