Health effects stemming from depleted uranium (DU) exposure in a cohort of Gulf War veterans who were in or on US Army vehicles hit by friendly fire involving DU munitions are being carefully monitored through the Baltimore Veterans Affairs (VA) DU Follow-Up Program initiated in 1993. DU exposure in this cohort has been directly measured using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) isotopic analysis for DU in urine specimens. Soldiers with embedded DU fragments continue to excrete elevated concentrations of U in their urine, documenting ongoing systemic exposure to U released from their fragments. Biennial surveillance visits provide a detailed health assessment that includes basic clinical measures and surveillance for early changes in kidney function, an expected target organ for U. Tests also include measurements of genotoxicity and neuroendocrine, neurocognitive and reproductive function. With the exception of the elevated urine U excretion, no clinically significant expected U-related health effects have been identified to date. Subtle changes in renal function and genotoxicity markers in veterans with urine U concentrations greater than 0.1 μg−1 creatinine, however, indicate the need for continued surveillance of these DU-exposed veterans.
One contribution of 17 to a Theme Issue ‘The health of Gulf War veterans’.
- © 2006 The Royal Society