A report will be released later this week into the use by American forces of depleted uranium (DU) weapons during the conquest of Iraq in 2003. US government documents show that upwards of 181,000 rounds of DU munitions were fired, many of them against "soft" targets such as cars, trucks and infantry emplacements.
DU rounds, of the kind fired from the A-10's 30mm. Gatling gun, are designed to destroy heavy armour - battle tanks and such. The uranium is incredibly dense and its kinetic force chews straight through heavy armour. The worrisome problem is the aftermath of toxic and radioactive debris that some believe could leave dangerous contamination lasting thousands of years.
America's M1-A1 Abrams tank also uses DU rounds for use against hostile armour.
The Americans dismiss the dangers as overblown. Then again, since they're the side that used the weapons and created the mess, that's in their interests.
Depleted uranium is what’s left over when the highly radioactive substance uranium-235 is enriched – its isotopes are separated in a process that’s used to make both nuclear bombs and energy.
DU is less radioactive than the original, but is still considered a toxic chemical and a “radiation health hazard when inside the body”,according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Many doctors believe any possible negative health effects would most likely stem from the inhalation of particles after a DU weapon is used, though ingestion is also a concern. Though studies have been carried out in laboratory settings and on small numbers of veterans, no extensive medical research has been carried out on civilian populations exposed to DU in conflict areas, including Iraq.