Gas May Have Harmed Troops, Scientists Say
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By IAN URBINA
Published: May 17, 2007
WASHINGTON, May 16 — Scientists working with the Defense Department have found evidence that a low-level exposure to sarin nerve gas — the kind experienced by more than 100,000 American troops in the Persian Gulf war of 1991 — could have caused lasting brain deficits in former service members.
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Rick Friedman for The New York Times
Roberta F. White of Boston University led the study of sarin nerve gas, which used new scanning technology.
Possible Sarin Exposure in Iraq, 1991 Though the results are preliminary, the study is notable for being financed by the federal government and for being the first to make use of a detailed analysis of sarin exposure performed by the Pentagon, based on wind patterns and plume size.
The report, to be published in the June issue of the journal NeuroToxicology, found apparent changes in the brain’s connective tissue — its so-called white matter — in soldiers exposed to the gas. The extent of the brain changes — less white matter and slightly larger brain cavities — corresponded to the extent of exposure, the study found.
Previous studies had suggested that exposure affected the brain in some neural regions, but the evidence was not convincing to many scientists. The new report is likely to revive the long-debated question of why so many troops returned from that war with unexplained physical problems. Many in the scientific community have questioned whether the so-called gulf war illnesses have a physiological basis, and far more research will have to be done before it is known whether those illnesses can be traced to exposure to sarin. The long-term effects of sarin on the brain are still not well understood.
But several lawmakers who were briefed on the study say the Department of Veterans Affairs is now obligated to provide increased neurological care to veterans who may have been exposed.
In March 1991, a few days after the end of the gulf war, American soldiers exploded two large caches of ammunition and missiles in Khamisiyah, Iraq. Some of the missiles contained the dangerous nerve gases sarin and cyclosarin. Based on wind patterns and the size of the plume, the Department of Defense has estimated that more than 100,000 American troops may have been exposed to at least small amounts of the gases.
When the roughly 700,000 deployed troops returned home, about one in seven began experiencing a mysterious set of ailments, often called gulf war illnesses, with problems including persistent fatigue, chronic headaches, joint pain and nausea. Those symptoms persist today for more than 150,000 of them, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than the number of troops exposed to the gases.
Advocates for veterans have argued for more than a decade and a half that a link exists between many of these symptoms and the exposure that occurred in Khamisiyah, but evidence has been limited.
The study, financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the first to use Pentagon data on potential exposure levels faced by the troops and magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of military personnel in the exposure zone. It found signs of brain changes that could be due to exposure, showing that troops who had been exposed at higher levels had about 5 percent less white matter than those who had little exposure.
White matter volume varies by individual, but studies have shown that significant shrinkage in adulthood can be a sign of damage.
The study was led by Roberta F. White, chairman of the department of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health. Dr. White and other researchers studied 26 gulf war veterans, half of whom were exposed to the gases, according to a Defense Department modeling of the likely chemical makeup and location of the plume. The researchers found that troops with greater potential exposure had less white matter.
In a companion study, the researchers also tested 140 troops believed to have experienced differing degrees of exposure to the chemical agents to check their fine motor coordination and found a direct relation between performance level and the level of potential exposure. Individuals who were potentially more exposed to the gases had a deterioration in fine motor skills, performing such tests at a level similar to people 20 years older.
Dr. White says this study and the results of research from other studies provide “converging evidence that some gulf war veterans experienced nervous system damage as a result of service, and this is an important development in explaining gulf war illnesses.”
Phil Budahn, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the research required further examination.
“It’s important to note that its authors describe the study as inconclusive,” Mr. Budahn said, adding, “It was based upon a small number of participants, who were not randomly chosen.”
Dr. White said she did not describe her study as inconclusive, though she said it would be accurate to call it preliminary.
I have sent the following to Senator Patty Murray's office and the other Edgewood Arsenal Volunteers who have been researching chemical weapons exposures since our use was learned in the late 1990's and early 2000's
To bring everyone up to date on my actions for the past month or so, I have been in contact with Senator Patty Murray's office about the Edgewood veterans and the lack of help from the VA and DOD on the status of claims processing for the many claims we have filed in the past five years.
Many of us have claims either in the system, on appeal or have been partially granted, most of them are granted for reasons other than the experiments or any secondary conditions that may be linked to any of the exposures.
For those of you that are not aware of the 77 toxic substances found in the drinking water, streams and ponds and the soil of the training areas of Edgewood, that were found by the EPA when they did the first assessments for the Superfund projects in 1978, the amount of environmental contamination led the EPA to force the DOD to cap the bases water wells where all the drinking, bathing and personal use water was drawn. The government was then forced to use bottle water and pipe in water from the White Mountains in 1978. The base is one of the most contaminated pieces of real estate the United States owns. Here is the link to the EPA report on EA http://cfpub1.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0300421 this is the list of the 77 known toxins we were exposed to environmentally http://cfpub1.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/ccontinfo.cfm?id=0300421 I have ran them thru the CDC database in Atlanta and they are linked to every known medical problem a persons body can suffer from, if you can name it these chemicals are linked to it from Cancer to hemorrhoids, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, neurological, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular, blood disorders.
There is also this manual published by the VA in October 2003 that deals with all the CBR programs from WW2 thru present which includes both Edgewood Arsenal programs WW2 and the Cold War http://www1.va.gov/vhi/docs/CBR_www.pdf
I obtained a full copy of the 1975 DA IG Report on Human experimentation which led to the closure of the "medvol" program in 1975. I wrote the Office of the Inspector General on the Internet and within 10 days they mailed me a complete copy of the report.
http://archive.gao.gov/t2pbat2/152601.pdf 1994 GAO Report on Human Experiments
http://www.sipri.org/contents/cbwarfare/Publications/pdfs/cw-delayed.pdf a German doctors report on the health of Wermacht soldiers exposed to chemical weapons in WW2 Germany
http://www.ehponline.org/members/1994/102-1/munro-full.html Jan 1994 report on health effects of exposure to Organphosphate weapons GA, GB and VX
http://archive.gao.gov/d37t11/148642.pdf 1993 GAO Report on Secret tests
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04821t.pdf GAO Report on DOD's statements on Gulf War Illness can not be supported
http://mailer.fsu.edu/~cfigley/vets/documents/VAletterRIN2900-AM09.pdf link between PTSD and heart disease accepted by the BVA on appeals for secondary conditions for soldiers with PTSD
http://mailer.fsu.edu/~cfigley/vets/health.html other supporting research on heart disease and PTSD
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04410.pdf page 20 of this GAO report shows that DOD had no intention of finding the 7120 men of Edgewood until the Bush Administration left office in 2009, despite the fact they knew where we were based on the data gathered in FY2000 for the March 2003 IOM Sarin Report
I have asked Senator Murray and Congressman John Hall Chairman of the VA Subcommittee on Investigations to look into the way DOD and the VA has treated the Edgewood veterans.
"On May 2, after learning about the research, Senators Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, and Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri, wrote the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments, asking about their plans for outreach and expanded benefits for exposed troops."
I think Senator Murray would be interested in this information as it shows that DOD and the VA have been knowingly lying to her and the Senate since at least March 2003 release of the IOM's Sarin report. But it is more likely before that as they have known of the existence of these chemical weapons studies for years.
This article in today's NY Times shows the tip of what I have been claiming for the past three years the link between known chemical weapons medical problems and the exposures at Kamisayah Iraq in 1991 and the 7120 men of Edgewood Arsenal.
They don't need more government studies there are more than 30 years of them in existence now, from the 1975 SIPRI report based on Wermacht soldiers of WW2 http://www.sipri.org/contents/cbwarfare/Publications/pdfs/cw-delayed.pdf
Then there is the January 1994 National Institute of Health report on Sarin and other nerve agents here http://www.ehponline.org/members/1994/102-1/munro-full.html
The March 2003 IOM report based on the Edgewood veterans by DR William Page ignored these reports as they showed links to cardiovascular problems, neurological, gastrointestinal, an d pulmonary, all of the bodies main systems, the costs for medical care and or compensation to the veterans of the First Gulf War would run into the trillions over the next 6 decades or longer.
I also have the links to GAO reports, DOD reports and VA statements that are just flat lies, not misstatements. But known deliberate misinformation. Mike Bailey 803-739-5749 the Edgewood volunteers are the key to the Gulf War veterans and it is my belief that is why DOD and the VA are deliberately ignoring us here are all the names of the volunteers I am in contact with as of today