In 1999, NATO fired some 30,000 rounds of depleted uranium munitions in Kosovo
as part of the military intervention in Kosovo (KFOR). According to Lt. Col
Alexander Willing, a KFOR spokesman, "NATO's use of DU in the Kosovo conflict
did not cause any continuing health risk and therefore no further action was
required on our part," he wrote.
The KFOR/NATO position is backed up by an assessment conducted by the
International Atomic Energy Agency, which concluded that "There was no
detectable, widespread contamination of the ground surface by depleted
uranium. This means that any widespread contamination is present in such low
levels that it cannot be detected or differentiated from the natural uranium
concentration found in rocks and soil. The corresponding radiological and
toxicological risks are insignificant and even non-existent."
The KFOR/NATO/IAEA reports, however, were contradicted by a study published by
the National Institute of Health regarding an increase in hematological
malignancies (HM) in Kosovo that appear to be linked with DU exposure. This
report stated that the "incidence of HM increased by 3.19/100,000 persons (82%)"
in regions where the use of DU ammunition was high.
"Despite these findings," the report concluded, "this study warrants further
investigation and does not lead us to a conclusive finding on the existence of a
causal relationship between the use of DU during the war and the rise in
incidence of HM in Kosovo."
The same cannot be said about the use of DU munitions by the United States in
Iraq. Human Rights Now (HRN), a Japan-based non-governmental organization,
performed an independent analysis of the impact DU had on the civilian
population of the city of Fallujah, the scene of heavy combat involving US
forces who employed DU munitions. According to the HRN report, "an extraordinary
situation of congenital birth defects" were detected "in both nature and
quantity. The report concluded that the presence of DU in the environment
resulting from combat "may be playing a significant role in the observed rate of
The US military itself points to the potential health hazard posed by exposure
to DU. says depleted uranium ammunition is safe, for the most part. "When fired,
or after 'cooking off' in fires or explosions, the exposed depleted uranium rod
poses an extremely low radiological threat as long as it remains outside the
body," the US Military Health Agency notes. "Taken into the body via metal
fragments or dust-like particles, depleted uranium may pose a long-term health
hazard to personnel if the amount is large. However, the amount which remains in
the body depends on a number of factors, including the amount inhaled or
ingested, the particle size and the ability of the particles to dissolve in body
-- Cont'd at https://archive.is/rEaQe
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