WMD in Iraq may kill Millions of Americans
'Return to Sender'
The radioactive Weapon of Mass Destruction - Depleted Uranium (DU), used in Africa and the Middle East, some of which could cause brain disease and genetic damage, hitch rides on dust storm plumes that blow westward for thousands of miles, according to researchers.
Some researchers and campaigners are convinced that depleted uranium left in the environment by spent munitions causes cancer, birth defects and other ill effects in people exposed to it. Of course Governments and the military disagree, and point out that there is no conclusive epidemiological evidence for this.
But as the dust grains and their tiny stowaways settle down in the Western Atlantic soil and plants , they could pose health risks to people in Florida and the Caribbean, according to scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA.
The seasonal storms, which peak in July, transport millions of tons of fine-grained dust mixed with DU (depleted Uranium) across the Atlantic each year, contributing to a reddish haze over much of the U.S. Southeast.
The fine-grained dust particles serve nicely as air carriers for the upwardly mobile Uranium Dust, which ride on easterly trade winds more than 10,000 feet above sea level.
"Uranium Dust in the cracks and crevasses of dust particles may be shielded from ultraviolet rays," said Dale Griffin, co-author of a report in the June 14 edition of the journal Aerobiologia, in a statement.
The dust events are cyclical. From February to April, the waves of particles descend on the Amazon Basin. The winds then shift and from June to October the Caribbean and North and Central America bear the brunt of the storms, which take 5 to 7 days to make the transatlantic trip.
Griffin and colleagues tracked the storms using a NASA satellite that monitors world ozone levels. They compared the results with airborne pollutants in the Caribbean and found corresponding high levels of poisonous dust.
Florida receives more than half of all DU-laden dust in the United States. During major episodes, there could be a correlation with increased health risks in the state, the scientists cautioned. The brain is a 'target organ' for dissolved uranium.
Besides microbe and fungi passengers, the dust grains themselves are known to cause respiratory and allergic reactions. One study in the Caribbean revealed a 17-fold increase in asthma attacks during an increased period of dust transport. More on DU
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