By: Constance Harness


WASHINGTON:     In an Associated Press article, a researcher expressed concern about plutonium contamination of personnel who had worked in ammunition processing plants decades ago in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Traces of plutonium in US ammunition used in Kosovo have been tracked to contaminated equipment at these plants.

Although plutonium is one of the deadliest substances known, officials believe that troops from the United States and other countries involved in Kosovo were not in danger from overexposure when they used the armor-piercing bullets made from the plutonium-tainted depleted uranium.

"We have seen nothing in our studies that would indicate that this has more than an insignificant amount of impact on either personal health or the environment," said Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman.

Quigley gave the example of:   If someone were exposed to a millionth of an ounce of the material, he would inhale "1/23 of a quadrillionth of a gram of plutonium, corresponding to an estimated increase in fatal cancer risk of about one in 13 trillion."