The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Health Concerns From Depleted Uranium Shells

The United Kingdom has said it would send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine to use against Russian armour.  This article will briefly explain what depleted uranium is and what health effects can be expected from its use.

Depleted uranium (DU) is a by-product of the uranium enrichment process. It is denser than lead and has been used for decades in the manufacturing of armour-penetrating munitions. However, the use of depleted uranium in munitions has been controversial due to concerns about its potential health and environmental effects.

Depleted uranium munitions have been used in a number of conflicts, including the Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, and the Iraq War. The primary advantage of using DU munitions is that they are extremely effective at penetrating armour. This makes them an ideal choice for destroying tanks and other heavily armoured vehicles.

However, there are a number of concerns associated with the use of depleted uranium munitions. One of the primary concerns is the potential health effects on soldiers and civilians who are exposed to depleted uranium. When DU munitions hit their targets, they release a fine dust consisting of uranium particles. These particles can be inhaled or ingested and can remain in the body for years. This can lead to a number of health problems, including cancer, kidney damage, and birth defects.

According to the National Library of Medicine, “US veterans in vehicles accidentally targeted by US tanks received significant exposure levels, resulting in about a 1.4% lifetime risk of DU radiation-induced fatal cancer.” (Gulf war depleted uranium risks – Albert C Marshall. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17299528/)

Another concern is the potential environmental impact of depleted uranium munitions. When DU munitions hit their targets, they the dust can contaminate the surrounding area. This can lead to soil and water contamination, which can have long-term effects on the local ecosystem.  A 2003 report found uranium levels in water and soils of selected areas in Afghanistan found levels higher than worldwide concentrations or exceeding WHO standards  However, there is no conclusive evidence that DU soil contamination is at a level to cause health concerns.

Some have argued that the use of depleted uranium munitions is necessary in order to protect soldiers on the battlefield. They argue that DU munitions are highly effective at destroying armoured vehicles, and that no other munitions are as effective.

However, others argue that the potential health and environmental effects of depleted uranium munitions are too great to justify their use. They argue that there are other munitions available that are just as effective at destroying armoured vehicles, but that do not have the same health and environmental risks.

In conclusion, depleted uranium munitions have been controversial due to concerns about their potential health and environmental effects. While they are highly effective at penetrating armour, the potential risks associated with their use cannot be ignored. Ultimately, the goal should be to protect soldiers on the battlefield while minimizing any potential harm to civilians and the environment.

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.

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