Expert Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Since the 1980s, the U.S. military has used depleted uranium in munitions and in protective armor on tanks. Depleted uranium is a toxic heavy metal and is weakly radioactive. Concerns have been raised about the adverse health effects from exposure to depleted uranium that is aerosolized during combat. Some think it may be responsible for illnesses in exposed veterans and civilians. These concerns led the Army to commission a report, Depleted Uranium Aerosol Doses and Risks: Summary of U.S. Assessments, referred to as the Capstone Report that evaluates the health risks associated with depleted uranium exposure. This National Research Council report reviews the toxicologic, radiologic, epidemiologic, and toxicokinetic data on depleted uranium, and assesses the Army's estimates of health risks to personnel exposed during and after combat. The report recommends that the Army re-evaluate the basis for some of its predictions about health outcomes at low levels of exposure, but, overall, the Capstone Report was judged to provide a reasonable characterization of the exposure and risks from depleted uranium.

Key Messages

  • The Capstone Report also does not include cancer risk estimates for soldiers who have embedded DU fragments.
  • The Capstone Report does not provide estimates of radiologic-cancer risks for levels II and III personnel. The committee finds that to be a deficiency in the report.
  • The committee concluded that the Capstone exposure results are reasonable and appropriate for use in the human health risk analysis of DU.
  • The committee found the methods and results of the Capstone exposure assessment to be appropriate and well done.