Wartime Occupational Hazards: Depleted Uranium

Nearly every kind of occupation or career carry with them an extent of danger, but none more so than what professionals in the military faces on a regular basis. In fact, aside from the obvious perils of wartime, toxic exposure (not necessarily from biological weapons) is also a constant threat that many veterans – with the help of their disability lawyers – put on their claims for government benefits. One of the most notorious of these toxic chemicals is depleted uranium.

What it is

Depleted uranium (DU) is a by-product left over after uranium is enriched to create material for tanks, subs, bullets, and body armor. Despite what the name might imply, DU is an extremely radioactive and toxic material.

Method of Exposure

Many scientists believe that the main problem with DU is when soldiers inhale nano-sized particles of uranium oxide. Even in this aerosol state, the metal remains insoluble in water, and when it gets inside the respiratory system, it could accumulate inside the lungs and eventually reach the bloodstream.

Genetic Effects

According to a study conducted in 2007 by researchers in the University of Maine, exposure to DU is so dangerous that it could lead not only to lung problems, but also poses a threat to the sufferer’s genetic material (risk of mutation). It is also believed to be the cause of the sheer number of reports of soldiers coming out of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts suffering from mysterious conditions, malignant tumors, and even digestive and metabolic disorders.


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