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Epidemiologic Studies of Veterans Exposed to Depleted Uranium: Feasibility and Design Issues
involved in cleanup efforts after a 1991 fire at Camp Doha in Kuwait. More than 700 people may have experienced level II exposure (Kilpatrick, 2008).
Level III exposure. This lowest level of exposure occurred when troops were downwind of burning DU ammunition, DU-contaminated vehicles, or the Camp Doha fire, or when they entered DU-contaminated Iraqi tanks. DOD estimates that thousands of people may have experienced level III exposure (Kilpatrick, 2008).
DU-containing weapons systems have been used in the military operations that began in Iraq in 2003 (Operation Iraqi Freedom, OIF), and there is potential for exposure of military personnel to DU in that war theater as well.
Discussed below are select available datasets that are being used to track exposure of and health outcomes in military and veteran populations. Some were developed to study long-term health outcomes in general (for example, that of the Millennium Cohort Study), and others were designed to assess DU exposure and health outcomes specifically (for example, that of the Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program). In most cases, some component was designated to record environmental exposure. The limitations of the datasets are discussed below. Information about each dataset is summarized in Table 3-1.
Department of Defense Depleted Uranium Medical Management Program
DOD’s Depleted Uranium Medical Management Program is a component of the overall health-surveillance program for military personnel returning from deployment. The program includes identifying DU-exposed OIF military personnel both by identifying events involving DU munitions or other DU-containing materials that may have resulted in internal exposure and through the postdeployment health-assessment process and patients’ self-reporting of DU exposure to medical personnel. A testing program for collecting urine to monitor for DU exposure is in place, and the Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program provides continuing health monitoring of military personnel exposed to DU during the 1991 Gulf War and OIF.
Several DOD policies provide guidance on identifying DU-exposed military personnel, quantifying and documenting exposures, analyzing embedded fragments, referring military personnel and veterans to the Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program, and reporting and archiving bioassay results (DOD, 2003, 2004a,b, 2008c).