Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
You are certainly confused about Gulf War Syndrome, which was noted for mysterious and alarming but very physical effects,

Which, however, were not actually present in any greater frequency in the population of gulf war veterans than in the general population.

What're you going to try to sell next? A vaccine-autism connection?

How long uranium persists in the environment is certainly unknown.  No theory can be trusted on this.

Because clearly uranium behaves completely differently from all other subgroup metals with similar electron structure. Give me a break. It's not like we have no experience with heavy metal pollution on which to base predictions.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand the presentation referenced by by Gaianne below correctly, Uranium is uniquely genotoxic because of the manner it is absorbed by the body and the degree to which it absorbs external radiation - proportionate to the fourth power of its atomic number - and concentrates it in very vulnerable parts of the body.

This has nothing to do with marginal increases in background radiation due to Uranium dust dispersal and everything to do with how even tiny concentrations of DU absorbed by the body amplify the absorption of external gamma radiation out of all proportion to its own (relatively low) level of radioactivity.

It seems to me this is a very specialised field of research and which should be careful about overgeneralising from related fields. According to the Video, the chief radiation advisor to the WHO was sacked for raising the issue, and so it may not be an entirely politics free area of research either.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 09:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. But what I'm not seeing there is anything to suggest that uranium is many times more problematic than lead, which we have some experience with to use as a basis for modelling.

Now, it may indeed be that we have been underestimating the toxicity of particulate lead. But as long as uranium is roughly comparable to lead (give or take an order of magnitude), historical data on the health effects and lifetime of lead pollution should still give estimates for uranium that are at least in the right ballpark. So the wild claims that uranium pollution makes an area uninhabitable for millennia need to be taken with a teaspoonful of salt.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 02:23:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a very specific claim which is that the European ECRR recommended multiplying radiation doses by 1000 in the case of Uranium in the body, and Chris Busby does not contest that number. He does say that, were that factor applied to the specific AREVA's environmental impact study he's discussing, it would make the project exceed legal safety limits... One would have to read the report to see if this is going from 90% of the legal limit to 900 times, or from 0.2% to 2 times the legal limit.

In any case, one interesting feature of lead poisoning is that

No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered--that is, there is no known amount of lead that is too small to cause the body harm.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization state that a blood lead level of 10 μg/dL or above is a cause for concern; however, lead may impair development and have harmful health effects even at lower levels, and there is no known safe exposure level.


The levels found today in most people are orders of magnitude greater than those of pre-industrial society. Due to reductions of lead in products and the workplace, acute lead poisoning is rare in most countries today; however, low level lead exposure is still common. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that subclinical lead exposure became understood to be a problem. During the end of the 20th century, the blood lead levels deemed acceptable steadily declined. Blood lead levels once considered safe are now considered hazardous, with no known safe threshold.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:02:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to model it?  Scandium?  One of the lanthanoids?  Uranium is in the Actinoid series, and how much does that tell you?  All are similar, but different.  Model away!  

I think there is yet no reliable model for this.  Experience would be worth more.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:38:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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