How Long Can The Pentagon Lie About Depleted Uranium?
How Long Can The Pentagon Lie About
By Christopher Bollyn
American Free Press
September 16, 2005
The Pentagon's duplicity about the dangers of depleted uranium has been exposed by a government-funded study confirming that radiation causes cancer.
LIVERMORE, California - The U.S. government's duplicity about the harmful effects of depleted uranium appears to have no limits. While the Pentagon tells U.S. military personnel that the health risks from inhaling depleted uranium are low, a study - sponsored by the Dept. of Defense - confirms that even low-level radiation causes cancer.
A government-funded study has confirmed what nuclear experts have known for decades: Any dose of ionizing radiation poses serious health risks.
The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences published a report in June 2005 confirming that ionizing radiation (IR) causes cancer. The consensus opinion of the 17 independent scientists who signed the report was that exposure to radiation from medical x-rays and nuclear medicine is directly linked to cancer.
The report, the seventh in the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation series, or BEIR VII, studied the health effects of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation, the kind received by thousands of Americans every day in x-rays, mammograms, computed tomography (CT) scans, and other procedures of nuclear medicine.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, nonprofit institution created in 1863 to provide science and technology advice to the government.
Medical x-rays and nuclear medicine account for nearly 80 percent of the man-made radiation exposure in the United States, according to BEIR VII, which focused on the health effects of radiation from medical sources.
The study concluded: "There is a linear dose-response relationship between exposure to ionizing radiation and the development of radiation-induced solid cancers in humans."
Solid cancers are defined as cellular growths in organs such as the breast or prostrate, as opposed to leukemia, a cancer of the blood.
"The scientific research base shows that there is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionizing radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial," Richard R. Monson, chairman of the BEIR committee, said. "The health risks," he said, "particularly the development of solid cancers in organs, rise proportionally with exposure."
Asked why this story has received so little attention in the media, Marion Fulk, a retired staff scientist from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said: "I don't think the media understands the importance of this. And some of the TV stations are owned by companies that are invested in the nuclear industry."
Fulk, who has survived skin cancer, said that as a result of tritium pollution from the national lab, children born in Livermore are 6 times more likely to have skin cancer than other children.
BEIR scientist William C. Dewey, Emeritus Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco, told AFP that 80 percent of the funding came from government agencies that did not see the report until it was completed.
"We had a meeting with the sponsors when it was finished," Dewey said. Asked if the Dept. of Defense accepted the report's conclusions, Dewey said, "As far as I know they've accepted it.
"This is the exactly the kind of independent scientific report that needs to be done with depleted uranium," Dewey said.
To determine the degree of damage caused by the larger alpha particles, like those emitted by DU inside the human body, the absorbed dose is multiplied by a factor of 20. Inhaled DU is extremely harmful because the source of radiation is internal.
Furthermore, the DU particle continues to emit alpha particles over a very short distance, about 50 microns, the distance of about two human cells. The critical target for ionizing radiation is the individual cell.
"The alpha does a tremendous amount of damage in a very short track," Fulk said. "It breaks more bonds and causes more damage in a local area."
The BEIR report confirms the findings of John W. Gofman, the first director of the Biomedical Research Division at the Livermore National Laboratory.
In the early 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission asked Gofman to evaluate the health effects of all types of nuclear activities. By 1969, Gofman had concluded that human exposure to IR was much more serious than previously recognized. The AEC, however, was not pleased and by 1973 his laboratory research on chromosomes and cancer was de-funded.
"Medical radiation is a highly important cause (probably the principal cause) of cancer mortality in the United States," Gofman wrote in 1999. "Medical radiation, received at very low and moderate doses, is an important cause of ischemic heart disease.
"Ionizing radiation is firmly established by epidemiologic evidence as a proven cause of almost every major type of human cancer," Gofman wrote. "Some of the strongest evidence comes from the study of medical patients exposed to x-rays."
X-rays and other forms of IR are a proven cause of chromosomal mutations. The biological damage comes from electrons that are kicked out of their normal orbits within human cells. "Endowed with biologically unnatural energy," Gofman wrote, these wild electrons damage chromosomal DNA and create various species of free radicals.
Free radicals are made and found primarily in the mitochondria, Fulk said. The resulting dysfunction of the mitochondria causes a host of neuromuscular diseases, he said, including: Parkinson's, Hodgkin's, Lou Gehrig's, and Diabetes II.
About 20 percent of cancers are caused by virus, bacteria, and parasites, Fulk said. To boost the immune system and give the body an extra chance to fight back, Fulk recommends a vitamin regimen rich in "free radical gobblers."
Gofman wrote that over 50 percent of the deaths from cancer, and over 60 percent of the deaths from ischemic heart disease, are x-ray induced. "The proof is so solid that it is accepted by even the industries and professions which irradiate people."
"If one can identify a single agent which is a necessary co-actor in a high fraction of cases of cancer and ischemic heart disease, one can make real progress in preventing these diseases by reducing exposure to that cause," Gofman wrote. "The evidence strongly indicates that medical radiation is such an agent.
"Since its introduction in 1896, medical radiation has become a necessary co-actor in most fatal cases of cancer and ischemic heart disease," Gofman concluded. "Reduction of exposure to medical radiation can and will reduce mortality rates from both cancer and ischemic heart disease."
Gofman's 1995 book Preventing Breast Cancer presents evidence to support his thesis that medical radiation is a necessary co-actor in about 75 percent of breast cancer cases.
THE PENTAGON'S DUPLICITY
The government agencies who sponsored the BEIR VII report act as if they had never seen it. The BEIR report was sponsored by the U.S. departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - agencies who consistently deny that exposure to DU poses a serious threat to human health.
Deployment Quarterly, a magazine produced by the Pentagon, citing a study done by a major defense contractor, reported last winter that "chemical and radiological risks to human health from inhaling depleted uranium aerosols in a perforated vehicle are low."
"Exposure levels to depleted uranium in military scenarios are safe," Lt. Col. Mark Melanson, director of the Capstone Depleted Uranium Program, said. "Troops in, on, or near armored vehicles when they are struck with DU munitions have the highest potential for intake and exposure, and we've seen that the intake and doses they receive are below U.S. peacetime standards for radiation and not high enough to cause lasting effects on individuals from their heavy metal toxicity."
The $6 million DU capstone study, however, was prepared for the U.S. government by Battelle, a major nuclear contractor based in Columbus, Ohio. Battelle manages several nuclear facilities for the Dept. of Energy, including the Oak Ridge, Brookhaven, Idaho, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.
In 1979, Battelle conducted a study of DU weapons and found that more than 30 percent of the bulk mass of a DU penetrator was reduced to nano-sized particles, one-tenth of a micron or smaller, on impact. These airborne particles remain suspended until inhaled or rained out. Inside the body, these extremely small particles are able to penetrate the nucleus of the human cell where they do extreme damage.
Battelle certainly knows very well how aerosolized DU works in the body. It has a subsidiary called Ventaira Pharmaceuticals that develops aerosol devices to deliver medications through the lungs.
The disclaimer in Battelle's Capstone DU report says that neither the U.S. government nor Battelle are responsible for the "accuracy, adequacy, or applicability of the contents" or "any consequences of any use, misuse, inability to use, or reliance upon the information."
Neither the Pentagon nor Battelle responded to repeated inquiries about the Capstone DU report.
"Scientific prostitutes" is what Fulk calls scientists who have a vested interest in the nuclear industry and whitewash the dangers of ionizing radiation. Fulk, who worked with the pioneers of the nuclear industry since the 1940s, has always opposed open-air testing of nuclear devices.
"Cancer is just the tip of the iceberg of the damage done the biological system caused by ionizing radiation," Fulk said. "There is no safe x-ray or safe level of IR of any kind."
"I think the public should be informed so they can make an informed decision about being exposed," Fulk said. "All I want is this crap cleaned up because it's a wicked business. What I'm trying to do is to prevent this from happening in the first place."