DU in Ukraine


The United States plans to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium (DU) munitions as part of a US aid package. DU is also used in tank armor.

The U.S. contends that there is no health threat even though DU is both a toxic heavy metal and radioactive, could pose a threat to troops from both Ukraine and Russia, and also civilians.

DU munitions are so dense they are used to pierce tank armor. Their density and momentum generate so much heat as they travel through armor, that they catch on fire, increasing the likelihood that the fuel of the vehicle will explode. Fire and explosion are two ways of spreading radioactive and heavy metal contamination, and also make this pollution more available to be inhaled or ingested.

DU is most dangerous when it gets inside the body: “Depleted uranium is a radioactive material and ionizing radiation is an accepted causative risk factor for many forms of cancer, such as lung cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer.” In the case of DU, the respiratory system and bone are at most risk. Uranium also has negative impacts on the reproductive health, and DU has a potential association with birth defects.

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