Defense Department doctors are examining the effect depleted uranium and other metals have on wounded warriors in order to improve patient care, the American Forces Press Service reports.
The Joint Pathology Center’s Biophysical Toxicology and Depleted Uranium/Embedded Metal Fragment Laboratories branch is conducting research of shrapnel taken from service members.
Doctors are analyzing embedded fragments in order to develop a secondary opinion as to how service members who have shrapnel should be treated.
Army Col. Dr. Thomas Baker, interim director of the Joint Pathology Center, said the ultimate goal of the research is to improve care by providing doctors advice on treating patients and mitigating the effects of uranium metals.
Baker said uranium can contribute to kidney damage over time and Pentagon personnel are looking into other possible long-term health risks.
Baker said the lab supports Pentagon, Department of Veterans Affairs, Pathology Center and Army programs with its assessments and has registered 600 specimens.
Dr. Jose Centeno, the lab’s director, said the lab has the only equipment in the nation capable of detecting where uranium is in the body.
Centeno said the lab has worked for the 18 years following the Gulf War to analyze metal fragments and alloys of steel, aluminum, copper and brass.
Lab members said shrapnel specimens are tested multiple times for accuracy.
The Pentagon and VA have added programs to test troops and veterans for uranium that is harmful to the body, Baker said.