Saturday, October 15, 2011

Depleted Uranium and Gulf War Syndrome

Okay, this is not a local topic...or is it?

How many veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are now in Central Illinois? Quite a few, according to the articles in the Peoria Journal Star and other local sources.

Now, it seems interesting to me that, while there are many sites dedicated to the topic of Depleted Uranium and its possible effects on returning veterans, let alone the rather gruesome sites relating to birth defects in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, there is no actual US Government agency that will acknowledge the possibility of DU as the source of "Gulf War Syndrome". When querying the Veterans Administration on their website, you are directed to a crisis hotline and told that there has been more than $213 million dollars spent in researching the cause of this debilitating and sometimes fatal disease.

You can take a lot of time researching the topic. I've spent about 24 actual hours in front of the computer at various sites trying to make sense of the information, and I can tell you there are a lot of opinions out there. But one thing is blatantly clear: it appears the US Government will be taking the same stance with "Gulf War Syndrome" as they did with Agent Orange. It is much easier to simply let the veterans affected die of the disease than to spend the time and money it does not have to correct the problem. That in itself is abhorrent, but the real problem of denying the possible effects of DU on our troops is much more so.

You see, many of the veterans who served in these areas are on their 2nd or 3rd tour. So not only have they been exposed to DU in the form of airborne particles that have infiltrated their bodies, but they will be further exposed to DU a 2nd and 3rd time in the course of their service, without proper warning or information. Of course, the government insists that there is insufficient evidence that DU exposure could cause these effects, or be responsible for the massive genetic damage being experienced as birth defects in the Middle East. But according to a 2008 study, there are grounds for considering DU as deadly as any weapon ever used.

"Now two researchers have a new theory that they say explains how depleted uranium could cause genetic damage. Chris Busby of the Institute of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science (IPNSS) in Braunschweig, Germany, and the University of Ulster, UK, and Ewald Schnug, director of the IPNSS, claim that uranium atoms in the body could act as "radiation antennas". They argue that uranium atoms could be capturing photons of background gamma radiation and then re-emitting their energy as fast-moving electrons that act on the surrounding tissue in the same way as beta radiation. This "phantom radiation" could be over 1000 times more damaging than the alpha particles released by depleted uranium's slow nuclear decay, according to their preliminary calculations.

Their theory invokes a well-known process called the photoelectric effect. This is the main mechanism by which gamma photons with energies of about 100 kiloelectronvolts (keV) or less are blocked by matter: the photon transfers its energy to an electron in the atom's electron cloud, which is ejected into the surroundings.

An atom's ability to stop photons by this mechanism depends on the fourth power of its atomic number - the number of protons in its nucleus - so heavy elements are far better at intercepting gamma radiation and X-rays than light elements. This means that uranium could be especially effective at capturing photons and kicking out damaging photoelectrons: with an atomic number of 92, uranium blocks low-energy gamma photons over 450 times as effectively as the lighter element calcium, for instance.

Busby and Schnug say that previous risk models have ignored this well-established physical effect. They claim that depleted uranium could be kicking out photoelectrons in the body's most vulnerable spots. Various studies have shown that dissolved uranium - ingested in food or water, for example - is liable to attach to DNA strands within cells, because uranium binds strongly to DNA phosphate. "Photoelectrons from uranium are therefore likely to be emitted precisely where they will cause most damage to genetic material," says Busby." Here is the source for this information.

So, to my understanding, there is a distinct possibility that the ingested or inhaled DU particles can act to amplify and intensify the natural radiation we all absorb every day. If this is so, the effects of this intensified radiation would be catastrophic to the human body, causing intense pain, disruption of normal body functions, corruption of organs, and cancer.

It is clear from my research to date that A The Government is going to do little or nothing until the Congress is forced to act to correct the problem, and B That is not going to happen without massive and repeated outcry from Citizens like yourself.

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