Dr. Asaf Durakovic of the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) in Washington has said the results of urine tests from a small sample of Afghan civilians has revealed "astonishing" levels of uranium, the BBC reported on 22 May. Durakovic said the UMRC sent a team to Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan in May 2002 to interview and examine some Afghans and conducted tests on 17 "randomly selected" individuals. "Without exception, every person donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium internal contamination," a UMRC report stated. The average level of uranium in the urine tests was 315.5 nanograms per liter, while in the United States the maximum acceptable level is 12 nanograms per liter. One teenage Afghan boy's levels tested at 2,031 nanograms per liter. If the UMRC tests in Nangarhar prove to be representative of the entire Afghan population, "the country faces a severe public health disaster" that places "every subsequent generation at risk," according to the report. The UMRC said the tests "indicate that radioactive, toxic uranium alloys, and hard-target uranium warheads" were used by U.S.-led antiterrorism forces in Afghanistan. An unidentified spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department said U.S. forces did not use depleted uranium in Afghanistan, the BBC reported (for more on the UMRC's Afghanistan Project, see (Amin Tarzi).

-- Radio Free Europe (