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Sunday, August 13th 2006

I Can't Even Make A Joke Title…

Are depleted uranium ammunition jackets making soldiers sick?

Since he left a bombed-out train depot in Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine, and still more in his stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his thyroid. Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin. Migraines cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of oil.

Reed believes depleted uranium has contaminated him and his life. He now walks point in a vitriolic war over the Pentagon’s arsenal of it — thousands of shells and hundreds of tanks coated with the metal that is radioactive, chemically toxic, and nearly twice as dense as lead.

Reed says he unknowingly breathed DU dust while living with his unit in Samawah, Iraq. He was med-evaced out in July 2003, nearly unable to walk because of lightning-strike pains from herniated discs in his spine. Then began a strange series of symptoms he’d never experienced in his previously healthy life.

At Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C, he ran into a buddy from his unit. And another, and another, and in the tedium of hospital life between doctor visits and the dispensing of meds, they began to talk.

Then the medic from their unit showed up. He too, was suffering. That made eight sick soldiers from the 442nd Military Police, an Army National Guard unit made up of mostly cops and correctional officers from the New York area.

But the medic knew something the others didn’t. Dutch marines had taken over the abandoned train depot dubbed Camp Smitty, which was surrounded by tank skeletons, unexploded ordnance and shell casings. They’d brought radiation-detection devices. The readings were so hot, the Dutch set up camp in the middle of the desert rather than live in the station ruins.

Still, the WHO, the IAEA, and multiple governmental and non-governmental studies have concluded that depleted uranium doesn’t pose a serious problem for the health of humans.

In contrast, some rat model (Study 1 & Study 2) looks at depleted uranium have found behavioral changes and neurotoxicity.

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