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Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program

Depleted uranium (DU) is a by-product of the uranium enrichment process; it possesses less U-235 and about 50% of the radioactivity of natural uranium.  During the Gulf War, uranium containing munitions were used on a large scale for the first time.  It was used by the United States military in projectiles and armor for tanks.  While thousands of military personnel had proximity to uranium munitions, either as they were stockpiled, transported or while riding in vehicles carrying these weapons, of most concern have been those individuals who were on or in vehicles when struck by depleted uranium projectiles.  DU is a radiation hazard primarily if internalized, such as in shrapnel, contaminated wounds, and inhalation.   In addition to its radioactivity, DU has some chemical toxicity related to being a heavy metal (similar to lead).

When the DU Program was established in 1993, only a limited number of US veterans were known to have been directly wounded by DU weapons.  In 1997, the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense became aware that a number of other service members beyond those first identified by DoD in 1993-1994, were also potentially exposed to DU.   DoD's Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses (OSAGWI) was tasked with investigating and locating a number of veterans potentially exposed to DU beyond the original participants in the program.  VACO officials in the Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards, OSAGWI and Baltimore program officials collaborated to initiate a program to assess potential DU exposure to service members, identify and inform those service members of the possibility of exposure to DU and advise them of the availability of testing to determine current urine uranium levels.

Central Office Coordinator
Neil S. Otchin, M.D.

Publications and Forms

VHA Handbook 1303.4
Evaluation Protocol for Non-Gulf War Veterans with Potential Exposure to Depleted Uranium (DU)
September 2, 2004
1303.4hk 209-02-04.pdf

VHA Handbook 1303.1
Evaluation Protocol for Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom Veterans with Potential Exposure to Depleted Uranium
September 2, 2004 (links to PDF file)

VA Form 10-9009D
Depleted Uranium (DU) Questionnaire 
Appendix A, VHA Handbook 1303.1

VA Form 10-9009E
Depleted Uranium Program Checklist
24-Hour Urine Uranium Collection
Baltimore VA Medical Center
Appendix B, VHA Handbook 1303.1

Depleted Uranium - FAQ Sheet
Prepared by the Depleted Uranium Follow-up Program
VA Maryland Healthcare System, Baltimore Division, January 2000 
revised January 2002.

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