Meta-analysis of depleted uranium levels in the Balkan region

J Environ Radioact. 2017 Jun:172:207-217. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2017.03.013. Epub 2017 Apr 7.


In recent years, contradicting data has been published on the connection between the presence of depleted uranium and an increased cancer incidence among military personnel deployed in the Balkans during the 1992-1999 wars. This has led to numerous research articles investigating possible depleted uranium contamination of the afflicted regions of the Balkan Peninsula, namely Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro. The aim of this study was to collect data from previously published reports investigating the levels of depleted uranium in the Balkans and to present the data in the form of a meta-analysis. This would provide a clear image of the extent of depleted uranium contamination after the Balkan conflict. In addition, we tested the hypothesis that there is a correlation between the levels of depleted uranium and the assumed depleted uranium-related health effects. Our results suggest that the majority of the examined sites contain natural uranium, while the area of Kosovo appears to be most heavily afflicted by depleted uranium pollution, followed by Bosnia & Herzegovina. Furthermore, the results indicate that it is not possible to make a valid correlation between the health effects and depleted uranium-contaminated areas. We therefore suggest a structured collaborative plan of action where long-term monitoring of the residents of depleted uranium-afflicted areas would be performed. In conclusion, while the possibility of depleted uranium toxicity in post-conflict regions appears to exist, there currently exists no definitive proof of such effects, due to insufficient studies of potentially afflicted populations, in addition to the lack of a common epidemiological approach in the reviewed literature.

Keywords: Balkan conflicts; Depleted uranium; Environmental damage; Health effects; Radiation damage; Toxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Balkan Peninsula
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Kosovo
  • Montenegro
  • Radiation Monitoring*
  • Serbia
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, Gamma
  • Uranium / analysis*
  • Warfare


  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Uranium