From the Annals of Atrocious Science: Uranium in Iraq

Iraq is suffering from depleted uranium (DU) pollution in many regions and the effects of this may harm public health through poisoning and increased incidence of various cancers and birth defects. DU is a known carcinogenic agent. About 1200 tonnes of ammunition were dropped on Iraq during the Gulf Wars of 1991 and 2003. As a result, contamination occurred in more than 350 sites in Iraq. Currently, Iraqis are facing about 140,000 cases of cancer, with 7000 to 8000 new ones registered each year. In Baghdad cancer incidences per 100,000 population have increased, just as they have also increased in Basra. The overall incidence of breast and lung cancer, Leukaemia and Lymphoma, has doubled, even tripled. The situation in Mosul city is similar to other regions. Before the Gulf Wars Mosul had a higher rate of cancer, but the rate of cancer has further increased since the Gulf Wars.

OK, fair enough. Worth researching certainly.

Soil samples were collected from three sites around Mosul (Adayah, Damerchy and Rehanyah), Soil samples were selected from some of the most extensively contaminated areas throughout the province of Nineveh around Mosul city. Mosul is the provincial capital of Nineveh, northern Iraq. Its geographical coordinates are: 36° 20? 6” North, 43° 7? 8” East, in the Nineveh Governorate with latitude of 36.37 (36° 22? 0?N) and a longitude of 43.15 (43° 8? 60 E). The sites selected were at Adayah, a landfill site for radioactive waste; Rehanyah, a former centre of research of nuclear military products; and Damerchy, a site used for military activities in 2003 and in subsequent years.


We\’re going to research the effects of DU by not looking at DU but at a radioactive disposal site and a nuclear research lab?

26 thoughts on “From the Annals of Atrocious Science: Uranium in Iraq”

  1. Tim, you know better than expect logic and sense from those pushing a narrative. Truth have no place in their narration.

  2. I don’t normally comment on non-tax blogs, but:

    A quick Google suggests that the UK cancer diagnosis rate is about 500 people per 100,000 per year, and another that Iraq has about 30m people. So at UK rates you’d expect 150,000 diagnoses of cancer per year in Iraq.

    The article says 7-8,000. That suggests that either cancer was very rare in Iraq, or that it was under-reported.

    Under-reporting seems to be likely, given that the health infrastructure has probably been worse than the NHS; but as things have reportedly been getting better infrastructure-wise, we would expect that if other factors have an impact:

    1) Repoted cancer rates in Iraq would be relatively low compared to the UK; and
    2) The reported rates would be increasing.

    This is exactly what we find. It’s a very crude analysis, of course, but why does it suggest anything other than that the Iragi health service is getting better?

    Incidentally, DU munitions would not be “dropped on Iraq”. DU is used because it’s very dense, so is ideal for helping kinetic-energy munitions pack more of a punch. You shoot KE munitions at people, you don’t drop them (except by accident) /pendant

  3. DU munition can be know to cause cancer, albeit, not the way the narrative would have it. When it penetrates metal armor (or sheet), it self sharpen, thus gaining additional penetration advantage. The shaving gives off micro particle of DU, which is hot enough to ignite air in an enclose environment, like a tank or troop carrier. When these particle enters the lungs of the survivors, they have a far greater chance of getting cancer.

    Of course, you’ll have to survive direct impact of the munition, the flash air ignition, and live a decade for the cancer to really bother you.

  4. “Before the Gulf Wars Mosul had a higher rate of cancer, but the rate of cancer has further increased since the Gulf Wars.”

    Two totally separate issues joined into one to give a false impression.

    1) Cancer rates per 100,000 were higher before the war in Mosul than they are now.


    2) Cancer rates have increased from an unknown point at an unknown time to another unknown point that is higher than it was just after the war (I assume when they first starting measuring again)

    Number 1 is a rate per 100,000. Number 2 is a change in the rate per 100,000.

  5. Depleted uranium is depleted, that’s the opposite of enriched. It’s the by product of enrichment and so (to a degree which depends on the efficiency of the enrichment process) may be very low in radioactivity. No special rules about storage and handling required apart from the usual ones about handling explosives. The tank crews got more radiation exposure, at a guess, than the Iraqis they aimed the artillery at.

  6. Oh, and by the way, iridium capsules, used for gamma ray radiology, are housed for safety in depleted uranium canisters. Which are bloody heavy to lug about.

  7. If memory serves, DU was mainly fired out of tanks and other AFV’s, with some coming from A10 cannon shells. Not much of that going on up in Mosul, so I suspect they were able to find no evidence for DU causing increased cancer rates.

    But just because it was nothing to do with them, doesn’t mean the Yanks aren’t to blame!

  8. I meant to say although depleted DU is still an alpha emitter and so not something that is a good idea to have in your body.

  9. I’d rather not breathe uranium oxide dust, even if depleted. But I’m sceptical that it’s responsible for a large increase in cancer in Iraq. My guess is that there have been other much more significant carcinogenic effects of the war.

  10. TheJollyGreenMan

    Boy, these guys are good, they studied Hansen and Mann and know how to carve a hockey stick!

    But, then there is nothing a carbon tax can’t fix, included depleted uranium.

  11. Rupert Fiennes

    “If memory serves, DU was mainly fired out of tanks and other AFV’s, with some coming from A10 cannon shells. Not much of that going on up in Mosul”

    Yeap, that does seem odd. There were no great tank battles up that way, so that does rather stand out as odd. If cancer rates there are similar to elsewhere then they are likely seeing something from another cause.

    The other issue was that Iraq had years of WMD programs along with a lot of burning oil wells. Oh, yes, an a bombed nuclear reactor. There is no shortage of possible suspects, DU seems quite the bit part player at most.

  12. Reminds me of the guy who came across three mental patients crawling on the ground by a lamp post.

    He asked what they were doing and their spokesman said they were looking for the keys to the car, when asked where the keys were lost the spokesman pointed to the opposite side of the road.

    So why, said the man are you looking here “because that is where the light is” was the response.

    So if you want to find radiation effects look where the radiation is…

  13. According toWikipedia:

    “U-238 has a much longer halflife than the lighter isotopes, and DU therefore emits less alpha radiation than the same mass of natural uranium: the US Defense Department states DU used in US munitions has 60% the radioactivity of natural uranium.”

    So still nasty stuff to breathe in.

    And, because DU dust is scattered during penetration/explosion, it’s not just the people it’s aimed at that are at risk.

  14. Don’t forget, the obvious alternative to DU is lead. Lead really isn’t any more healthy once vapourised or whatever, so even if we’re looking at negative effects from the DU, it’s not against a baseline of zero.

  15. ” it s not against a half life of zero ”

    Indeed it s not. The half life of swarthy gentlemen with big mustaches, named Saddam, is around 30 yrs & cause famine, torture, gas poisoning, bullet wounds, explosive dismemberment & invasion of neighboring countries.

  16. Following Rupert.

    Yes – in 1991 it was essentially not fought over, save by the Iraqi Govt attacking Kurdish country.

    In 2003 it was occupied after Saddam vanished but they basically rebuilt parts of it.

  17. So Much For Subtlety

    Dave – “Don-t forget, the obvious alternative to DU is lead.”

    Actually it is probably tungsten. Which was used before and the Americans are using now.

    Myself, I just would not bother. I would use natural uranium. Sure, it is a lot more radioactive than Depleted uranium, but it has that word “natural” in front and so it cannot be bad, right?

    The question to ask is whether anyone would care if God had randomly distributed this DU all over the landscape. Of course scientists would be surprised to see depleted uranium in nature (see Oklo), but would the EPA or whomever lift a finger? Edinburgh and Cornwall suggests not.

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    dearieme – “Edinburgh? You must be confusing the eastern Scottish cities.”

    You mean it is not a toxic radioactive waste dump? Well, three out of four aint bad.

    22PaulB – “can we take it that you would be happy to breathe uranium oxide dust?”

    I assume I do all the time. The question that matters is how much and how radioactive. As far as DU goes, it is unlikely that any amount of DU dust will remain in the air for long – or pose any health risk at all. Croatia is not whining about it.

    But then, they do not want to encourage the sort of attacks we have just seen in Woolwich.

  19. My guess is that there have been other much more significant carcinogenic effects of the war.

    And my guess is that years of appalling industrial pollution eclipsed any carcinogenic effects of the war.

  20. Why not when climatists rely on data gathered from airfields (lots of lovely tarmac and the odd blast from a jet )? If you set out to find something to fit your narrative you look in the places you know you’ll find it.Disinterested objectivity is so last century.

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