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NEW YORK TIMES

December 13, 2012

Paper Links Nerve Agents in ’91 Gulf War and Ailments

By JAMES DAO


Reviving a 20-year debate over illnesses of veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, a new scientific paper presents evidence that nerve agents released by the bombing of Iraqi chemical weapons depots just before the ground war began could have carried downwind and fallen on American troops staged in Saudi Arabia.

The paper, published in the journal Neuroepidemiology, tries to rebut the longstanding Pentagon position, supported by many scientists, that neurotoxins, particularly sarin gas, could not have carried far enough to sicken American forces.

The authors are James J. Tuite and Dr. Robert Haley, who has written several papers asserting links between chemical exposures and gulf war illnesses. They assembled data from meteorological and intelligence reports to support their thesis that American bombs were powerful enough to propel sarin from depots in Muthanna and Falluja high into the atmosphere, where winds whisked it hundreds of miles south to the Saudi border.

Once over the American encampments, the toxic plume could have stalled and fallen back to the surface because of weather conditions, the paper says. Though troops would have been exposed to low levels of the agent, the authors assert that the exposures may have continued for several days, increasing their impact.

Though chemical weapons detectors sounded alarms in those encampments in the days after the January 1991 bombing raids, they were viewed as false by many troops, the authors report.

But a significant number of medical experts have cast doubts on the sarin gas theory over the years, and several said Thursday that the new paper did little to change their minds.

Dr. John Bailar, an emeritus professor at the University of Chicago who led a group that studied gulf war illnesses in 1996, said there was still no clear evidence that troops might have been exposed to levels of sarin significant enough to have a biological effect.

Dr. Bailar said that the stress of war rather than chemical agents might be a more likely cause of the veterans’ problems. “Gulf war syndrome is real,” he said, using the term for a constellation of symptoms. “And the veterans who have it deserve appropriate medical care. But we should not kid ourselves about its causes or about the most effective means of treatment.”

Nearly half of the 700,000 service members who were deployed in 1990 and 1991 for the gulf war have filed disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and more than 85 percent of those have been granted benefits, the department has reported.

Many of those veterans have reported long-lasting problems, including chronic pain, memory loss, persistent fatigue and diarrhea, some of which had no clear causes. Many veterans insist that their problems are not the result of stress but have a biological basis.

Paul Sullivan, a gulf war veteran who has advocated for more research into the illnesses, said the new paper provided “overwhelming scientific evidence” that exposure to chemical agents sickened those troops and that the Department of Veterans Affairs should ensure that all receive health care and benefits.

Panels of medical experts have come down on both sides of the issue, with one group in 2000 questioning whether low levels of sarin could cause long-term health problems and another in 2004 concluding that toxic chemicals had caused neurological damage in many troops.

The Pentagon has acknowledged that the postwar demolition of a chemical weapons depot at Kamisiya, in southern Iraq, may have exposed 100,000 troops to nerve gas. But the military has said it was unlikely that nerve gas caused long-term illnesses in troops, a position it reiterated on Thursday.
 

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I heard on a late night radio program I listen to (Coast to Coast) that many "experts" believe the myriad of symptoms our returning troops are suffering from, is caused by repeated over exposure to DU, depleted uranium, I ask this because I simply don't know, what would be the source(s) of the DU they would have been exposeed to??
 

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I heard on a late night radio program I listen to (Coast to Coast) that many "experts" believe the myriad of symptoms our returning troops are suffering from, is caused by repeated over exposure to DU, depleted uranium, I ask this because I simply don't know, what would be the source(s) of the DU they would have been exposeed to??
DU is used in several weapons, commonly the 30mm cannon carried by the A-10. However, DU is very unlikely as a source. If that were the problem you'd see a lot of workers at ammo manufacturers suffering the same symptoms, as well as many in the airplane industry, since DU is also used for weight and balance in commercial jetliners control surfaces. I had a chunk of it on my desk for 15 years, and ain't nothing wrong with me. :dancingdots:
 

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I'm not sure about the comparison of DU and common old lead...I realize that lead-based paints have rec'd. lots of attention over the last quarter century as well as fuel products...(gasoline). The navy trained me to be a plumber and for a number of years, poured lead plumbing joints on sewer lines was the only means of doing the job...Breathing the fumes from the molten lead off an open furnace could not have been a healthy situation! However, later when the navy had me working around refrigeration installation and repair, we would wash the parts off in open pans of carbon tetrachloride...took the grease off our hands too...later it was outlawed to the point that maybe it doesn't even exist anymore...We lagged (insulated) steam pipes by covering them with preformed blocks of Johns-Manville asbestoes...Jeeze, here I am, going on 80 years old and all that's wrong with me is the same problem Willie Nelson complains about in song and deed...."I've outlived my p-----"!!!!! Chief
 

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Thank for the response, I didn't know about it, and thought I would get a straight answer here, rather just believing something I heard on the radio, It's more of a conspiracy show than anything, but has some interesting topics from time to time,

I respect the experience and knowledge of most here, thanks for the comeback guys,
 
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