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Public Health (05-03-2010)
Public consultation on a preliminary opinion: Environmental and health risks posed by depleted uranium.
Today, the European Commission and the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) launch a consultation on a scientific opinion on the environmental and health risks posed by depleted uranium. The consultation will run until 12 April 2010.
Depleted uranium (DU) is a by-product of uranium enrichment, suitable for a number of products, both civilian and military. Public concerns about the effects of DU on human health and the environment relate mainly to its use in military weapons
In May 2008, the European Parliament passed a resolution on DU weapons which called on the Commission to a) promote scientific studies into the use and effects of DU and b) establish a list of DU contaminated areas for any clean-up operations, should they be necessary.
Consequently, the Commission asked SCHER for an opinion on the health and environmental risks of DU taking into account both the chemical and radiological toxicities of DU including possible synergistic effects. SCHER has now adopted a preliminary opinion, concluding that the chemical toxicity of Uranium can be used to assess the health risk due to potential exposures to DU. Human health risk due to chemical toxicity and radiation from DU only occurs when it is swallowed or inhaled. Details on this opinion can be found in the related report available on-line.
Stakeholders are invited to comment through an online consultation. Gathering feedback on the scientific evidence and conclusions drawn by the SCHER is a key part of the committee's risk assessment procedure.