After the war

Published: Monday 15 March 1999

SIXTEEN British ex-servicepersons, who served in the 1991 Gulf War, have tested positive for depleted uranium contamination, according to the National Gulf Veterans' and Families' ssociation (ngvfa). Depleted uranium poisoning is the cause of a variety of illnesses veterans are suffering from since the war against Iraq, said a spokesperson of NGVFA.

Depleted uranium rounds are prized by the military as they can pierce thicker armour at greater ranges than other high-velocity rounds. They emit radioactive wastes but at levels too low to pose a health risk unless ingested or inhaled. But ammunition containing the metal burns on impact, transforming it into a dust that can be inhaled. This poses unknown risks. In December 1998, the us dismissed as "completely unfounded" Iraqi charges that high child cancer rates were linked to the use of depleted uranium ammunition.

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