The European press in particular has been raising concerns of increased rates of leukemia in European troops that have been stationed in the Balkans. Can exposure to DU be the cause of these cases of leukemia?

It is highly unlikely that exposure to DU ammunition would cause leukemia. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated in its Toxicological Profile for Uranium,"[n]o human cancer of any type has ever been seen as a result of exposure to natural or depleted uranium." A 1999 RAND study concluded, "there are no peer-reviewed published reports of detectable increases of cancer or other negative health effects from radiation exposure to inhaled or ingested natural uranium at levels far exceeding those likely in the Gulf." Exposures in the Balkans should be no more than those in the Gulf.

After the media reports in early 2001, nations who had deployed peacekeepers to the Balkans have begun medical monitoring and epidemiological studies. The objective of the studies is to determine whether there is an increase in medical problems in troops who served in the region when compared to troops who did not. To date, none of these studies have found a connection between DU exposure and leukemia or any other pathology. The United Nations and other international organizations also have conducted environmental surveys in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. These surveys consistently have reported no widespread DU contamination and no current impact on the health of the general population or deployed personnel.

Leukemias following high doses of radiation peak in frequency five to seven years after exposure. Media accounts of leukemia cases and deaths within months of return from the Balkans are not consistent with current scientific understanding of the time course of radiation-induced leukemia.