Author Topic: Factsheet - Canadian Forces Voluntary Depleted Uranium Test Program  (Read 1376 times)

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Canadian_Vet

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Factsheet - Canadian Forces Voluntary Depleted Uranium Test Program

The health and well-being of our people is our first priority and the CF Health Services works actively to understand our patients' problems and provide the care they need to make them well.

Canadian Forces personnel should know that if they return unwell from an operational deployment - regardless of the cause - the CF health services will do its utmost to restore their health.

In February 2000 the Minister of National Defence announced the CF would offer depleted uranium testing at two laboratories for anyone who requested this assessment.

All voluntary tests completed to date have found no evidence of increased uranium levels among CF veterans of either the Gulf War or Balkans peacekeeping missions. The tests do not support the theory that members were exposed to toxic levels of depleted uranium. Canadian results are the same as those obtained by Canada's allies - the United States, Belgium, France and Germany.

Our test consists of two parts involving urine and hair samples. Individuals are asked to submit two 24 hour urine collections that are sent to two separate laboratories for a total uranium analysis (the isotope U-238). Each lab acts as a quality assurance for the other. We also ask each individual to submit a 100 mg hair sample to one of the labs for a uranium isotope analysis (isotope U-238/U-235). This indicates if the individual has ever been exposed to depleted uranium. The tests will show the total uranium level that individuals excrete in their urine and if they have ever been exposed to depleted uranium. These are two very separate issues.

Two different methodologies are used. The first is an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) and the second is instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA). The hair is analyzed using ICP-MS. The testing equipment is very sophisticated and those who operate it require the necessary expertise to use it. Interpretation of patients' data is done by Dr Ed Ough, a scientist at RMC.

The tests indicate the total uranium present and they are very reliable. The tests also provide an isotope ratio that is very reliable. It should be noted that all humans have uranium in their bodies. Exposure to very small amounts of uranium ten years ago may not be reflected in an isotope ratio conducted a decade later because we excrete uranium in our urine daily; however, exposure to such a small amount would not constitute a health hazard.

Testing is "batched" by the labs and results are usually available in 4-6 weeks.

Cost for the complete battery of testing is about $800.00 per individual.

These tests do not provide any indication about the health status of the patient, including whether or not they have leukemia. The CF continues to encourage anyone with health concerns related to operational deployments to present themselves for a medical assessment. If there are specific concerns about depleted uranium DU testing is available to all CF members.

Effective: 25 January 2001
Issued by the Director General Health Services
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