Living In the Shadow of DU: About depleted uranium

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU)

Depleted uranium (DU) is a radioactive substance forged from the toxic waste produced by civilian nuclear power plants and military nuclear weapons programs.  Due to its high density, it is commonly used in the exterior armor of certain tanks and fighting vehicles and in munitions called penetrators. When a DU penetrator strikes its target, it ignites, and up to 40% of its mass can be reduced into fine, radioactive particles which can be easily inhaled. 

According to a 1998 report done by the US Agency for Toxic Substances the symptoms related to inhaling DU dust particles include: fatigue, shortness of breath, lymphatic problems, bronchial complaints, weight loss, bleeding, and unsteady gait.  The British Royal Society has also stated that inhaling a substantial amount of DU could lead to kidney damage and lung cancer. 

The U.N. reported that NATO aircraft fired 31,000 rounds of toxic depleted uranium at Serbian tanks in Kosovo, which has exposed local populations, aid workers, and K-For troops to a known health hazard. Cases of cancer in peacekeeping troops stationed in the Balkans were reported in Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Turkey and at least six Italian peacekeepers, who were stationed in Kosovo, have since died of leukemia. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the official U.S. and British positions are still that depleted uranium munitions do not pose serious health or environmental hazards and that there is no scientific evidence which proves otherwise.

More on DU:

For an excellent review of depleted uranium, its history, how it has been used in a variety of weapons and the multitude of health problems it causes, and further links see: "Depleted Uranium: The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War", by Leuren Moretin World Affairs – The Journal of International Issues, July 2004. Read the full article at:

The 1 April 2004 (#788) issue of Rachel's Environment & Health News is a well-researched report on the origins and dangers of depleted uranium:
Depleted Uranium Weapons of War:

"Uranium is a naturally-occurring element that is both weakly radioactive and a toxic heavy metal. Naturally-occurring uranium contains two main radioactive isotopes: U-238 (99.3%), and U-235 (0.7%). When uranium is "enriched" to make an A-bomb (which requires lots of U-235), the leftover "depleted uranium" (DU) is 99.8% U-238 and retains about 60% of the radioactivity that was present in the original natural uranium..."
Read the rull report at:

One woman’s story: "Please don’t close your eyes and ears to this issue.  Don’t be afraid to look for the truth."

Patricia Rodriguez, a student from Seville, Spain, tells a different story about the effects of exposure to DU. Patricia’s boyfriend, Antonio Gonzalez, a Spanish soldier who was active in four missions in Kosovo, contracted a “mystery illness” and died just days later.  Antonio’s sudden death, at the age of 22, shocked Patricia and hardened her resolve to expose the truth behind Antonio’s death. We spoke with Patricia at an international conference on the uses and dangers of depleted uranium in November 2003.

WLOE: Patricia, please explain what happened when Antonio came back from Kosovo.

PATRICIA RODRIGUEZ: “Antonio was an athletic, healthy, young man.  Days after returning from Kosovo, he started suffering from symptoms such as high fever and coughing. He started feeling very tired…and he had developed a fever of 40-41 degrees…the military hospital told him that he had a cold.  A few days later his symptoms became worse and he was transferred to a civilian hospital.   They told him that he had acute leukemia.  At three o’clock in the morning, I took the train from Sevilla to Zaragosa to be with him.  He couldn’t stand and was vomiting.  I was in shock.  On Oct. 31, 2000, fourteen days after he came back, he was dead.”

WLOE: How did people react to the news of his death?

PR: “…friends of ours who were also soldiers in the military, asked me if his illness could have been caused by some sort of radiation exposure in Kosovo….The Spanish government said that there were no cases of illnesses caused from serving in the Balkans.  When I heard this I went to the press and I told them about Antonio.  His story received a lot of attention and stories of other families who had members suffering from the same illnesses, having tumors in the same places, and [were] deployed in the same places, started coming out.”

WLOE: What did you do after you heard other families had been affected?

PR: “I needed to talk to other families [who were] going through the same things that I went through.  But this kind of outreach is difficult.  Now, I am waiting for the media to pick up this story again, so that more families can come together and find support.

WLOE: How can people help families and individuals, who are dealing with these illnesses?

PR: “All families need access to information on uranium weapons before their family members are sent into combat or exposed in any way to these weapons.  Families with affected members need information on treatment.  Families need personal support…and families affected by these illnesses need financial support.  Soldiers need to be tested and this costs a lot of money.”

WLOE: Do you have a message for other women, men, and families who are now experiencing what you’ve gone through?

PR: Please don’t close your eyes and ears to this issue.  Don’t be afraid to look for the truth.  If we permit these things, we are destroying our genetic heritage and we are contaminating the planet.

This interview was conducted during the Uranium Weapons Conference 2003 held in Hamburg, Germany.For more information on depleted uranium weapons see:
Pandora Depleted Uranium Research Project
Campaign Against Depleted Uranium
The Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU) was launched in 1999 to focus specifically on trying to achieve a global ban on the manufacture, testing, and use of depleted uranium weapons. See their What is Depleted Uranium?
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – Australia
Traprock Peace Center