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Hot Ammunition Poses Health and Environmental Threats

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One of the world’s newest wartime pollutants is depleted uranium, or DU—a dense, slightly radioactive metal that has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats. The U.S. military has used DU ammunition to rip through enemy tanks and heavy armor in every major conflict since the 1991 Gulf War.

But Dan Fahey, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, has dedicated himself to bringing the hazardous side effects of DU to light. A Navy veteran and former board member of the National Gulf War Resource Center, Fahey says the impact of the ammunition against armor creates toxic particles that may affect the health of soldiers and civilians long after a conflict ends.

For years, Fahey has worked to promote greater research on the health effects of DU, as well as testing and monitoring of veterans exposed to DU. He has appeared on BBC radio, CNN, NPR, and the Voice of America, and in publications ranging from the Financial Times to Rolling Stone. His work succeeded in prompting the military to train all servicemen and women in the use of DU ammunition and its dangers. And he has worked with Congressman Bob Filner, D-Calif., to launch an investigation of the policies used to test and monitor veterans exposed to DU munitions in Iraq.

At Berkeley, Fahey is building on his DU work to examine the environmental causes and consequences of armed conflict.Working with Professor Nancy Peluso, Fahey plans to study environmental issues in war-torn areas of Africa.

-Sara Bernard


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