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Depleted uranium: key reports awaited

Forthcoming WHO and UNEP reports won't answer the question of whether DU weapons have an impact on human health. There's still plenty of research needed, say UN agencies.

Robert Walgate(walgate@scienceanalysed.com)

LONDON Both the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are now preparing studies — due to be published in a few weeks' time — which should deepen our knowledge of the impact of depleted uranium (DU) munitions in Kosovo.

But the studies still won't answer the most important question: what is the measureable impact of DU weapons on human health? For that, far more research will be needed, unless we are to rely on theoretical estimates and extrapolations.

In preparation for that research, last week the WHO European Office in Copenhagen sent four experts, including an epidemiologist, for 10 days to Kosovo to determine how to make an in-depth study of the impact of battlefield DU — and other substances. "It's an initial fact-finding mission," a WHO spokesperson told BioMed central. The experts will propose how to collect information on exposure to DU —...

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