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WHO calls for $20m for research on DU

Epidemiology is the weak leak in understanding depleted uranium, says the World Health Organisation, while offering to plug the gap.

Robert Walgate(walgate@scienceanalysed.com)

LONDON Following a visit by four experts to the Balkans last week, the World Health Organization has estimated that $20 million is needed for epidemiological research on DU during the next four years.

If the money were forthcoming, WHO says it would undertake "in-depth epidemiological and toxicological studies" into the possible health effects of depleted uranium (DU) — and other possible toxic materials used in warfare — in the Balkans and the Gulf.

Although experts' current thinking is that the risk from exposure to DU is low, information is insufficient for firm conclusions, WHO says. "Evidence on the incidence of cancers needs to be strengthened… to draw any epidemiological conclusions," says Xavier Leus, Director for the Emergency and Humanitarian Action Department of WHO. "There is also very little information on other possible risk factors for civilians and the military that may be equally important. We need to examine possible connections...

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