did not have such munitions. US military personnel were exposed to depleted uranium as a result of friendly-fire incidents, cleanup and salvage operations, and proximity to burning depleted-uranium–containing tanks and ammunition (DOD, 2000). Depleted-uranium–containing projectiles struck 21 occupied Army combat vehicles (15 Bradley fighting vehicles and 6 Abrams tanks) (AEPI, 1995). In addition, US forces used depleted-uranium rounds to destroy three unoccupied Abrams tanks to prevent them from being captured by the enemy, and five Abrams tanks became contaminated when depleted-uranium rounds were involved in onboard fires (AEPI, 1995). After the war, assessment teams and cleanup and recovery personnel may have had contact with depleted-uranium–contaminated vehicles or depleted-uranium munitions. In July 1991, a large fire occurred in Camp Doha near Kuwait City. This site housed a number of combat-ready vehicles, and the series of blasts and fires damaged or destroyed vehicles and munitions, including Abrams tanks and depleted-uranium munitions. Troops at the scene and those involved in cleanup efforts may have been exposed to depleted-uranium residue. Other troops may have been exposed through contact with vehicles or inhalation of depleted-uranium–containing dust.
In estimating the number of US personnel exposed to depleted uranium during the Gulf War and the extent of their exposure, the Department of Defense Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses categorized potential depleted-uranium exposure scenarios in three levels (DOD, 2000). The levels are described briefly below and in more depth in Chapter 5.
Level I, the highest exposure level, occurred in or near combat vehicles when they were struck by depleted-uranium rounds or when soldiers entered vehicles soon after impact. An estimated 134-164 people may have experienced level I exposure through wounds caused by depleted-uranium fragments, inhalation of airborne depleted-uranium particles, or ingestion of or wound contamination by depleted-uranium residues. Some 74 Gulf War veterans, including those with internal depleted-uranium fragments, are participating in the Depleted Uranium Follow-up Program, a medical surveillance followup study that began in 1993 at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center (McDiarmid et al., 2007).
Level II, the intermediate exposure level, occurred when soldiers and civilian employees worked on depleted-uranium–contaminated vehicles or were involved in cleanup efforts from the Camp Doha fire. More than 700 people may have had level II exposure through inhalation of dust containing depleted-uranium particles and residue or through ingestion by hand-to-mouth contact or contamination of clothing.
Level III, the lowest level of exposure, occurred when troops were downwind of burning depleted-uranium ammunition or vehicles or of the Camp Doha fire or when personnel entered depleted-uranium–contaminated Iraqi tanks. These level III exposures could have occurred though inhalation or ingestion. Hundreds