13th March 2003
The Low Level Radiation Campaign's web site www.llrc.org contains
three reports which falsify Dan Fahey's assertion (his page 11) that
there are no credible studies linking exposure to DU with any
cancers or illnesses among people in Iraq, the Balkans ....etc.
Health Risks following Exposure to Aerosols produced by the use
of Depleted Uranium Weapons Presentation by Dr. Chris Busby to Public
conference on DU Prague, 24 and 25th Nov. 2001 (a pdf file
downloadable from this site) gives data from the Sarajevo Cancer
Registry showing that rates (not crude numbers) of many cancers
increased dramatically after the conflict.
The effects of DU - lymphoma incidence in Italian troops returned
from peacekeeping duty in Bosnia (as a pdf file
downloadable from this site) is about research by the Italian army
showing a 7.9-fold excess of lymphoma in this population.
Radioactive Times Vol. 4 no 2. has a story entitled
Desert Storm. This has cancer registry data which show major
anomalies in rates of childhood leukaemia in areas where DU was used.
Overall Dan Fahey's report falls into the trap of overlooking the
novel and uniquely man- made type of exposure resulting from the
aerosolisation of DU, the extreme mobility of the resulting dust and
its ability to be resuspended, and the underestimation of hazard from
chronic doses to lymph tissue following inhalation of the dust.
Here is correspondence between LLRC, Dan Fahey and
Dr Chris Busby, author of the Prague paper and the report on Italian
peacekeepers cited above.
Dan Fahey's reply 13th March 2003:
Rather than refute my report, the studies you cite support my
contention that the claims about DU are not backed up by evidence.
Overall, the reports you cite do not prove that people who were
actually exposed to DU developed the observed effects.
You claim Busby's paper refutes my report, but Busby simply
suggests DU is responsible for cancers in Sarajevo because "Sarajevo
is close to the town where Nic Priest took urine samples and found DU
contamination in people," (p. 14 of the report on the LLRC site). We
don't even know if the people who developed cancer were exposed to DU.
How exactly does this refute my report?
There is no evidence the Italian soldiers were exposed to DU, and
it is not sufficient to say DU is the cause of their lymphomas simply
because the veterans were in a geographic region where DU was used. We
should be asking what else they might have been exposed to, and to
evaluate DU in that light so that we can identify and correct any
environmental hazards that might be causing the observed effects.
Similarly, the rates of childhood leukemias cannot be blamed on DU
simply because the children live in a geographic region where DU was
used. It might be reasonable to suggest, after rigorous analysis, that
DU could possibly be causing some of the effects, but it is inaccurate
to simply blame DU because it is known or supsected DU was used in
certain areas without some kind of study showing the children were
actually exposed, or at the least very likely to have been exposed to
If you look at my recommendations, I call for population studies to
be conducted so that we can understand if DU is a causative or
contributing factor in the observed effects.
Rather than "falsify" my claims, the studies you cite actually
support my report and its conclusions, and I thank you for bringing
this to the attention of a larger audience.
Chris Busby replies to Dan Fahey (14th March 2003):
In epidemiology, it is very seldom that we can obtain a result that
proves causation beyond doubt. So under these circumstances, we have
to see the argument more from the point of a courtroom, where the
weight of total evidence ius weighed and the finding of guilty is on
the balance of probability. There is also the point of mechanism and
plausibility. We use induction. What to the cancer and infant effects
in these areas have in common? What kind of cause could there be that
makes these effects occur? If we are looking at cancer and infant
effects we are looking at genetic damage. Yhen we want to find a
mutagen or carcinogen. What mutagen or carcinogen ties all the
increses in cancer together? Radiation and micron particles. This
brings in Sellafield and Chernobyl. And so forth. The jury then
decides. Of course, if the jury are paid by the people who make the DU
and use it then they start asking the kinds of questions that Dan is
asking, and there is business as usual.
Richard Bramhall's email (14th March 2003) to Davey Garland re
Dan Fahey's reply (above):
--------------- reply ----------------
Yes, Fahey sent it to us as well. Please feel free circulate this
His argument is silly. We meet it frequently when discussing
evidence with people who are embedded in the conventional view of
radiation risk. It's a reductionist and essentially anti-scientific
technique; it consists of taking one or two (or, in this case, three)
bits of the evidence and saying that each on its own proves nothing.
The papers on the LLRC site (www.llrc.org) contain an entire argument
demonstrating that the theoretical basis of the ICRP model is fatally
flawed. Much evidence of disease in populations exposed to radioactive
pollution (not only DU) supports our case empirically; the sharp
increase in infant leukaemia reported from several countries after
Chernobyl is an irrefutable example, defining an error in the ICRP
risk factor of some hundred fold.
The British Government has established a scientific advisory
committee to decide whether the ICRP model is valid for internal
The European Committee on Radiation Risk has recently published its
2003 Recommendations (see
for details). The Committee has developed weighting factors for
various types of exposure which ICRP treats simply on an averaged dose
model. The ECRR factors include a "Biophysical Hazard Factor (Wj)" to
allow, among other types of exposure, for the effectiveness of chronic
local doses to the small volumes of body tissue which surround
incorporated hot or warm particles - insoluble DU oxides, for example.
The Factor Wj for internal insoluble particulates is given as between
20 and 1000 depending on activity, particle size and dose (noting that
Tamplin and Cochran in 1974 calculated an enhancement of dose for
Plutonium oxide hot particles as high as 115,000). As I understand it
the word "enhancement" means "conferring a greater hazard than the
same dose averaged over a mass of tissue in the order of 1 kilogram"
(the usual ICRP fudge)
We agree with Fahey's recommendation for research in exposed
populations but he is saying that no such research has yet been done,
and that is patently wrong. We are not impressed by his assertion that
"We don't even know if the people who developed cancer were exposed to
DU" - the point is that the DU dust is highly mobile and could be
found all over the conflict regions if appropriate techniques were
used. We have not been back to the Balkans recently but for all we
know DU is still being resuspended. In discussions at the UK MoD's DU
Oversight Board it has been said that one problem in researching DU is
the difficulty of finding uncontaminated controls. This may explain
why the cameraman tested positive in Nick Priest's study for BBC
Fahey's sentence: "We should be asking what else they might have
been exposed to, and to evaluate DU in that light so that we can
identify and correct any environmental hazards that might be causing
the observed effects" is confused and redundant - a recipe for fudge
After 1991 we heard a lot about other mutagens in Iraq and the
great significance of the findings from the Balkans is that the common
factor was DU. The great significance of the findings of the Italian
Army is that there is a good baseline for generating an expected
number of lymphomas; this is in contrast to the nightmarish
difficulties of doing epidemiology in a war zone.
In conclusion, there is now plenty of information to indicate that
DU weapons are contrary to international law, on account of their
indiscriminate effects [see footnote].
Low Level Radiation Campaign
Dan Fahey's reply to Richard Bramhall (14th March 2003):
You still don't answer the assertion made in my report, which is
that there are no studies linking DU to observed effects. You are
making a fatal flaw if you do not think it is necessary to have
evidence that the Italian soldiers - or others - were even potentially
exposed to DU before suggesting that their lymphomas are related to DU.
Yes DU is mobile, but so are many other chemicals and heavy metals.
The reports on your web site do not provide any information about the
soldiers, or the children, only speculation that their problems
resulted from DU because DU was used, as if the Balkans were a
pristine environment devoid of any pollution prior to the introduction
of DU. And you are missing an important point: the DU rounds hit few
to no hard targets, thus minimizing the creation of DU dust. This is
actually good news for people who want to ban DU because it tears away
the military position that DU rounds are indispensible. Unfortunately
people are too focused on making unsupported claims and playing into
the military's hands by talking about how great DU is rather than
building a solid argument based on available information and research.
In my opinion, you are harming the DU issue by providing the public
and policy makers with an inaccurate and highly speculative assessment
of the actual (and potential) effects of DU. Your message [above] does
not address any of the key points in my paper. I accept the hazards of
DU, but I do not accept claims made about those hazards and their
effects that are unsupported by evidence and in many cases, not even
and Dan Fahey's reply to Chris Busby:
You confuse law with science. I have a greater background in law
than science, but my understanding - and please correct me if I am
wrong - is that in science you start with a hypothesis, and then you
test that hypothesis until you have a result. You start with the fact
people have developed health problems, but your analysis fails to test
the reasons why - you simply assume DU must be the culprit because it
is biologically plausible that DU could cause those effects. As I said
in my previous email, we do not know what other toxins these people
might have been exposed to, so I ask you, as a scientist, how can you
attribute these effects to DU if you do not even know if these people
were exposed to DU? Is that credible scientific analysis? Not in my
In a court, you would at the very least have to show some link
between cause and effect. In this case, you have evidence of effect,
but no evidence of cause - speculation won't get you far in a court,
As with LLRC, you are actually making my case stronger by making
the weaknesses of your argument even more apparent, and I thank you
and Chris Busby replies to Dan Fahey:
>From: Dr Chris Busby
>To: Richard Bramhall
>CC: davey garland
, Daniel Fahey
>Subject: Re: [DU Information List] Dan Fahey article on "Science or
>Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2003 12:03:44 -0000 > >
Actually, you have the wrong idea about Science. Read Bruno Latour,
Science in Action, Harvard 1987. The hypothesis testing is OK with
Newton's Laws but gets more complex in areas of biology and stochastic
risk. Apart from that it's a case of 'You can't wake up someone who is
pretending to be asleep'.
ps Get hold of the ECRR2003 recommendations (see www.euradcom.org)
where all this is explained.
Dan Fahey's reply to Chris Busby:
I'm wide awake, which is why I can see that your reports lack
convincing evidence between cause and effect to support your
conclusions. There's no doubt DU is harmful, but considerable doubt
about who has actually been exposed to it. You and others have
constructed a house of cards on DU - building one speculation on top
of another - that can not stand up to even the cursory scrutiny I have
put it under, as is becoming clear to the many people who are thanking
me for writing this report.
Richard Bramhall comments (15th March 2003):
This debate has got to the stage where Dan is repeating arguments -
specifically the "cursory examination" one which I answered earlier -
and I don't see any point in going on with it.
Low Level Radiation Campaign
There has been no further correspondence.
Anti-DU activist Professor Doug Rokke has spoken
out recently on legality of DU. In comments reported in the Scottish
Sunday Herald and the UK's Independent he describes the
use of DU weapons as "illegal". See
Rokke is a veteran of the first Gulf War. Most of the men who worked
with him on decontaminating equipment have died and he himself suffers
from DU induced illness.
We at LLRC said in 1999 that use of DU in munitions contravenes
Article 3 of the UN CONVENTION ON PROHIBITIONS OR RESTRICTIONS ON THE
USE OF CERTAIN CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS WHICH MAY BE DEEMED TO BE
EXCESSIVELY INJURIOUS OR TO HAVE INDISCRIMINATE EFFECTS AND PROTOCOLS