JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — In a story Jan. 22, 2020, about the public health effects of depleted uranium, The Associated Press erroneously reported several details about the presentation by an Alaska woman interested in the public health effects of radiation. Shelby Surdyk, who presented to the Juneau World Affairs Council on Jan. 16. Surdyk, is not a native of Skagway but lives there. She spoke about radioactivity in places like the Marshall Islands and southern Iraq. She had a teacher who taught in the Marshall Islands, but the instructor did not study the effects of radiation. A corrected story is below.
A southeast Alaska woman interested in the public health effects of radiation gave a presentation on the background and context surrounding use of depleted uranium in conventional weapons by the US military in Iraq, the Juneau World Affairs Council said.
Shelby Surdyk of Skagway presented information Thursday on the public health effects of depleted uranium rounds in Iraq after doctors reported seeing congenital birth defects in kids born in the region, the Juneau Empire reported.
“Although the data suggest that there is a connection between uranium and adverse health outcomes in Iraq, the data is uncertain,” Surdyk said. “We didn’t find the condemning evidence that I’d hoped for, mostly because of the high risk of bias.”
Surdyk became interested in radioactivity from a high school teacher. And when in high school, she said she saw images of infants born with congenital birth defects in Iraq, prompting her interest in depleted uranium research. She attended the American University in Beirut studying environmental health. Her thesis was titled: “ A Systematic Review of the Associations Between Exposure to Weaponized Uranium and Adverse Health Outcomes Among the Iraqi Population.”
Since completing her master’s studies, Surdyk returned to Alaska and took a fellowship with the local chapter of the advocacy group Veterans for Peace. She is currently organizing an April conference for the Alaska Youth Congress for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which will host students from nuclear-affected countries.