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[casi-analysis] Auto-immune illnesses from coalition munitions?

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This article struck my attention (which I dont think as been posted on CASI??? a google search 
didnt find it anyway)
I am never sure what to make of these stories as I often feel there is a lot of alarmist 
misinformation or deliberate muddying of the waters in these areas.

But it does fit a pattern that has been seen before.  I should apologise in that I have not been 
following the DU items posted here with some frequency.  But things that spring to mind of similar 
type unexplained pathologies include...

The very high levels of uranium found in the urine of Afghani males in the aftermath of the 
coalition attacks.
The high level of autoimmune illness found in rescue workers at the crash site of the Israeli 
Airline crash into an apartment building in Amsterdam in the 90's
Similiar accounts are sometimes heard regarding rescue workers and inhabitants near Ground Zero in 
Gulf War sickness amongst veterans and of course use of DU in the Balkans.

I am not sure if all these cases can or should be related back to one factor.  Or to what extent 
they are just conspiracy rumour mongering.  I have seen convincing evidence that at least some of 
Gulf War syndrome can be related back to deliberate infection of servicemen with genetically 
engineered mycoplasm (the work of Garth Nicolson, who was, previously, a well respected biologist 
with a very large list of publications to his name.).  Alarmingly his work suggests that some 
servicemen were infected with a strain of mycoplasm containing an HIV gene sequence and others were 
infected with a strain without this sequence - a perfect classical controlled experiment.

The other fact I would mention regarding the use of DU, is that Uranium metal ignites at a very low 
temperature - around 500 degrees - and combusts into gaseous uranium oxides.  Its use in munitions 
leaves open the possibility that what could be occuring is the production of a heavy toxic gas that 
could be poisoning nearby residents and rescue workers.  In effect a chemical weapon.  However, the 
science of this is far from my area of expertise (such as it is).

But again, for me in this area the line between information and deceit always seems very blurred.  
I welcome any comments.

Tom Young

 Living by the fence in Abu Ghraib  E-mail this
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Jo Wilding, Electronic Iraq, 25 December 2003

Dr Jinan at the clinic in Abu Ghraib says there are patients coming in with illnesses that she and 
her colleagues can't diagnose. Patients are referred to the main hospital complex at Baghdad 
Medical City but they return with still no diagnosis and having had no treatment. In particular, 
there have been patients presenting with bubbles on the skin. They "become hot, like burning coals, 
get hard and spread." She said they don't understand it.

There's been an enormous increase in allergenic respiratory and skin problems with no apparent 
trigger. In particular there has been a rise in three conditions -- alopeicia (hair loss), 
psoriasis and viteligo (skin problems). These are not infections spreading through the community 
but auto-immune, caused by the body attacking itself, to put it simply. They are related to nerves, 
so fear and stress could be a factor in the increase, but environmental factors are also believed 
to be important.

In the row of houses closest to the airport fence every single household reported some kind of skin 
or breathing problem. Probably the most common was white patches on the skin, which started, for 
most people, between April and July. Or spots on the skin, which turn black and then the skin peels 
off. Or the blisters or bubbles on the skin that Dr Jinan mentioned, with or without fluid.

Women brought us inside, away from the men, took off their hijabs and showed us bald patches on 
their heads. The water is contaminated and, to combat that, it's filled with chemicals. It means 
you can drink it without spending the rest of the week in the toilet but it wrecks your skin. One 
of the women brought us to her small son whose scalp was like a toadstool of red skin and white 
pustules under the hair, insanely itchy but too painful to touch.

Immediately after the bombing of the airport, people said, thousands of trucks started removing the 
soil from the complex. No one can tell us where it was dumped. Other trucks brought fresh soil from 
elsewhere to replace it and tarmac trucks came in to cover it over. About a month after the 
bombing, the trucks started leaving their loads closer to the fence, tipping rubble, metal, broken 
crockery and general debris in the 1st June sector. Kids play and men forage in the heaps between 
the houses.

One said "There are no jobs. Sometimes useful things are dumped and we come and find them and sell 
them." Some of the kids told us about sweets, food and mineral water being thrown out. They go and 
eat the sweets and bring home the water and military ration MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). "No you 
don't," scolded one of the mothers. "I do," the child said with a gleeful grin. She went red and 
said "Well, sometimes."

The November 2003 study by the Uranium Medical Research Committee (UMRC) said: "Witnesses living 
next to the airport report 3,000 civilians were incinerated by one morning's attack from aerial 
bursts of thermobaric and fuel air bombs. Since the cessation of the main phase of battle, several 
of the Baghdad area battlefields [were] landscaped by the US forces and Iraqi contractors, thus 
preventing a thorough examination."

One family living near the fence told us that all their chickens died on the day of the bombing. 
"There was no harm to their bodies, they were still complete, but they were dead." The 
grandmother's eye ruptured during the bombing. A thermobaric weapon -- stop eating before you read 
this -- is essentially a fireball which sucks out all the oxygen in the area. Among other things it 
sucks out eyeballs and suffocates victims.

"On the day of the bombing the smoke went in his eye and it ran for a week and then stopped and the 
doctor said he can't operate because the nerves are already destroyed." The five-year-old boy 
watched us with his other eye and his 22-year-old sister stood in silence as their mother told us 
she was already deaf and mute from birth. She had her first fit during the bombing at the airport 
and has had them regularly, every week or ten days, since then. The mother is one of the women who 
have had several miscarriages in recent years.

The Dairy buildings on the other side of the airport are a little further from the fence, the Dairy 
provided a buffer. Less illness was reported there: the same conditions but less concentrated. In 
the 1st June sector as well, the frequency of problems seemed to decrease in the second and third 
rows of houses as you move back from the fence.

Health statistics are few and basic. We could get the rate per year of cancers, all types and all 
ages, for in patients at the hospital (one or none each year from 1991 to 1996, 7 in 1997, 3 in 
1998 and then 11, 16, 15, 19 and 20 respectively for each of the last five years). We could get the 
monthly incidence of skin and breathing problems for in patients at the hospital.

We could get nothing about outpatients treated in the clinic, nothing to compare the monthly data 
for this year with previous years, nothing about the geographical distribution of sufferers, let 
alone any details of the majority who never go for diagnosis or treatment because they can't afford 
it, which is why we were chatting about health with the women of the community in the first place.

Because of the threats made, we weren't able to test water, soil and air to map the environmental 
contaminants which might be responsible and to work out a clean up scheme, but I didn't come here 
to whine about the nigh-impossibility of doing any research so I'll give it a rest there. What we 
did achieve was a general picture of health conditions and some of the environmental clean up work 
that might be needed.

Truncated - rest of the article here

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