TAB G - European Commission Report:
"The Opinion of the Group of Experts Established According to Article 31 of the
Euratom Treaty; Depleted Uranium" 
Summary. The European Commission
reported on the possible radiological health effects of depleted uranium. The report was
based on the work of a group of independent scientific experts that was established
according to Article 31 of the Euratom Treaty. The groups authority, according to
the text of the Euratom Treaty, is to advise on the dangers arising only from ionizing
radiation. Thus, the Commission asked the group to note the chemical toxicity of uranium,
but specifically address only the radiological health consequences of exposure to depleted
This report is a good laymans guide to
the entire DU radiological issue. Written in non-technical language, it covers the
properties, uses, pathways of exposure, and dose estimates for DU. When considering the
potential radiological health effects of DU, the group of experts draws heavily on the
experiences of the uranium and atomic weapons industries.
- Taking into account the pathways and
of human exposure, radiological exposure to depleted uranium could not cause a
detectable effect on human health (e.g., cancer).
- Leukemias latency period is shorter
than that for solid cancers, but uranium accumulates very little in blood forming organs
such as bone marrow. Therefore, the calculated risk of leukemia is far below the risk of
- DU exposure scenarios via the food chain
included deposition of depleted uranium on vegetation, ingestion of contaminated water or
soil, and consumption of contaminated foodstuffs. Resulting doses through such means would
be extremely low.
- On the basis of available knowledge of
chemical toxicity, one would expect to observe uranium renal toxicity before any other
damage (including cancer). The possibility of a combined effect of exposure to toxic or
carcinogenic chemicals and to radiation can not be excluded, but there is no evidence to
support this hypothesis.
- Without knowing the specific exposure
situation, monitoring guidance cannot be provided for individuals who have been in contact
with DU. In general, it would be more appropriate to monitor the environment (e.g.,
drinking water supplies) than it would to monitor individuals.
- The experts also felt that they were not in a
position to provide guidance on the need for clean-up measures. Any intervention should
take into account the specific situation. General protective measures should be considered
on the basis of a common-sense approach to prevent easily avoidable exposures. Where
appropriate, specific protection against exposure to depleted uranium should be proposed
(e.g., warning signs to prevent the public from picking up DU metal pieces).
- The experts saw no need to exempt DU from any
provision of the basic safety standards for the protection of workers and the public from
the dangers of ionising radiation; neither did they see a need to introduce stricter
safety standards for specific uses of DU.
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