Home Issues August 1, 2005 issue In Fact…)

editorial | posted July 14, 2005 (August 1, 2005 issue

John S. Friedman writes: A group of soldiers who served in Iraq plan to file a lawsuit within a month in Federal District Court against the Army for violating its regulations by not offering safeguards against exposure to depleted uranium, used in tank armor and artillery, and for not providing adequate medical treatment. Although DU has been linked to Gulf War syndrome, and scientists are concerned about civilian exposure to it during the 1999 war in Kosovo, the Pentagon continues to deny that DU inhalation has harmful health effects. After being misdiagnosed by the Army, the nine soldier plaintiffs, from New York National Guard units, who suffer from a variety of health problems, were tested by a private laboratory, which in most cases found DU traces in their bodies. A child of Gerard Matthew, conceived after the father returned from Iraq, was born with a deformed hand and missing fingers. Matthew, a member of a transport unit from Harlem, blames his exposure to DU-laden dust. Asked about the soldiers’ symptoms, an Army spokesperson said, “These concerns are not likely attributed to exposure to depleted uranium.” The Army’s environmental tests of selected sites did not detect any DU. Dr. Asaf Durakovic, who supervised the soldiers’ private DU testing and sent his own team to measure sites in Iraq, called those results “hogwash.” In June Louisiana became the first state to require that vets be tested for DU.