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News On The Sarin

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Gas May Have Harmed Troops, Scientists Say


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.

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.

Published: May 17, 2007

(Page 2 of 2)

Lea Steele, a Kansas State University epidemiologist and the scientific director of the veterans department’s advisory committee on gulf war illnesses, said she thought the study was extremely important. Dr. Steele said that gulf war illnesses had been described by their symptoms, but that until now scientists had struggled to find physiological conditions that corresponded with those symptoms.

But the new research, Dr. Steele said, used previously nonexistent brain scanning technology to, essentially, “look into the brain to evaluate the difficult-to-characterize problems affecting gulf war veterans.”

Thus, she said, it is “the first to demonstrate objective indicators of pathology in association with possible low-level sarin-cyclosarin exposures.”

Dr. Daniel J. Clauw, professor of medicine and director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan, said that while the study indicated that the veterans had not imagined their illnesses, more research was needed.

“Future studies need to compare the results of brain scans of gulf war veterans with individuals with chronic pain and other symptoms who were not deployed to the gulf war before concluding that any changes are due to wartime exposures,” Dr. Clauw said.

For more than five years after the explosions at Khamisiyah, the Pentagon denied that any American military personnel had been exposed to nerve gas. Confronted by new evidence in 1996 and 1997, it acknowledged that up to 100,000 troops might have been in the path of the plume and exposed to low-level doses that produced no immediate effect. In 2002, it released a report saying the exposures had been too low to have caused a long-term adverse effect on health.

Now, the government is straining to handle the health and rehabilitation needs of soldiers returning from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lawmakers say they are concerned that veterans facilities will soon need to provide brain scans and treatment to soldiers from the 1991 war who learn of the new research.

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.

The new research, the senators wrote, finally provides “comfort to the thousands of gulf war veterans who have fought for answers and now know that there is a ‘significant association’ between gulf war illnesses and nerve agent exposure in Khamisiyah, Iraq, in 1991.”

The Pentagon has not decided whether to inform veterans about the possibility of a link between exposure and brain damage.

Dr. Michael E. Kilpatrick, deputy director of the Force Health Protection and Readiness Initiative at the Defense Department, said that while Dr. White’s study represented an important finding, he did not believe that his department would send letters to potentially exposed veterans alerting them of it.

The impact of the study was limited, Dr. Kilpatrick said, because it did not establish a direct causal connection between sarin exposure and gulf war illnesses, and it depended on Defense Department data that was at best an estimate and at worst a guesstimate of exposure levels by troops.

“But I’m sure we will be talking with members of Congress about it in deciding how to go forward,” said Dr. Kilpatrick, who has handled much of the department’s work on Khamisiyah and troop health issues.

In 2005, the Pentagon notified about 100,000 gulf war veterans who had been exposed that a study showed a link between brain cancer and gas exposure. Ms. Murray said the Pentagon needed to send similar letters about the new research, expressing concern that many veterans might not know that something might be wrong with them."


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  • HadIt.com Elder

Berta, this was sent to Senator Murray's office today ahd then here is a link to a Daily Kos post I made


"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/Pu.../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 al so 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

From: ERIC MUTH <emuth@sbcglobal.net>

To: Mike Bailey <testvet@aol.com>, Brent <datatrek02@msn.com>,

Buck <pbp@integra.net>, David Dufrene <ddufrane@nycap.rr.com>,

Gates <gwayrealty@aol.com>, Jackson <pateacher@hotmail.com>,

Rick Lake <firehawk_28@yahoo.com>, Robert Mauro <rmauro7846@yahoo.com>,

Larry Meirow <lamei2006@aol.com>,

"John \[Marty\] Mulvey" <may551@hotmail.com>,

Bruce Price <purdiemae@yahoo.com>, Frank Rochell <fmokar@onslowonline.net>,

Bob Taylor <roundeye@imbris.com>, Wray <FaronYoung2@netscape.com

I have also sent this same information to the NY Times and Chris Adams of McClatchy


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I agree with you that the

"Edgewood volunteers are the key to the Gulf War veterans " as any veteran exposed to any hazardous chemical or compound, with disabilities resulting- are critial to the proper resolve of all claims of this type.

The SHAD website director was on SVR Wed night and I asked Jerrel to contact Denise Nichols too and she came on the air-too-

the theme is vast and all compassing.Paul ( Project 112) stated and I agreed that there is no definitive meeting of the minds on these issues-words to that affect-I forget how he put it--

plenty of data, many vets affected, yet sarin, DU, SHAD etc etc are not being addressed in one

focused site on the web-devoted to these issues.

Mike Harris couldnt make this broadcast but sent me this info-He claimed that they used Silvex in the water tanks in Nam .


from Mike Harris:

" I couldn't find a date on this study. It appears to be old, but thought

I'd send it along anyway.




A new study published last month provides fresh evidence that dioxin [TCDD]

causes cancer in humans. Dioxin is not a commercial product but is created

as an unwanted byproduct of many industrial processes; significant

quantities of dioxin are released from the smoke stacks (and the ash

landfills) of incinerators that burn chlorine-containing items--such as

medical wastes (RHWN #179), sewage sludge, and municipal solid wastes. Once

it is released into the environment dioxin persists for a very long time,

enters food chains, and accumulates; when humans eat dioxin contaminated

food, such as milk or fish, the humans themselves accumulate dioxin in their

blood and fatty tissues. [1]

Scientists have known since the mid-1960s that dioxin is an extremely

powerful promoter of cancer in laboratory animals, but industry researchers

have recently been claiming that humans somehow are exempt from the dioxin

danger. The question of dioxin's hazard to humans took on real urgency in

the early '80s when 15,000 veterans sued Dow chemical and other producers of

Agent Orange (a dioxin-contaminated herbicide widely used to defoliate the

jungle in Vietnam from 1962 to 1971); the vets sought money damages for

health effects (cancer, defective offspring, and so forth) they said they

were experiencing. Lawyers for the Vietnam vets offered documentary evidence

that Dow chemists convened a private meeting of their competitors in 1965 to

share new information that impurities [dioxins] in the herbicide 2,4,5-T

(principal component of Agent Orange) caused severe liver damage in rabbits.

According to court records, a chemist at Hercules Powder Company who

attended the private Dow meeting in 1965, received a phone call from a Dow

executive who "warned him to keep the findings away from the federal

government," according to a reporter for Nature, the British science

journal. [2] If this is true, it would not be the first time, nor the last,

that money has influenced the outcomes, and the uses, of scientific studies.

In any case, as a result of these lawsuits, during the 1980s the question of

dioxin's effects on humans became subject of bitter controversy--with

enormous sums of money riding on the outcome of the debate. As the 1980s

drew to a close and it became known that all incinerators create and release

dioxin into the local environment, industry felt enormous pressure to

"prove" that dioxin was harmless to humans. From 1980 onward, industry

researchers published several studies of dioxin-exposed workers, claiming to

show that they suffered no more cancer than the general public. Last year,

however, evidence began to accumulate indicating that the industry-funded

studies of dioxin dangers to humans were badly flawed or were simply

fraudulent (see RHWN #171, #173, #175).

The latest study is not by industry researchers but by Dr. Marilyn Fingerhut

of the federal National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

(NIOSH); Fingerhut looked at the health of 5172 workers at 12 chemical

plants that manufacture (or formerly manufactured) products contaminated

with dioxin such as the herbicides 2,4,5-T, Silvex, Ronnel, Erbon, and

pentachlorophenol (which has also been used as a fungicide, algicide, and

wood preservative for telephone poles and pilings), and the bacterial

cleansing agent, hexachlorophene--until the 1970s, a leading bactericide in


Of the 5172 exposed workers (all of whom were male), 1520 met two key

conditions: they had been exposed for at least a year, and their exposure

had begun at least 20 years previously. The onset of cancer is always

delayed by 7 to 40 years (or more) between the time of initial exposure and

the time disease appears; therefore, the "latency" period of at least 20

years is important in studying cancer that may be related to a particular

chemical exposure. This group ("cohort," to use the language of medical

researchers) had nine times (900%) the normal amount of soft tissue

sarcoma--malignant cancer of the soft connective tissues. The same group

also had 42% more cancers of the respiratory tract (trachea, bronchus and

lung) than would be expected among males in the general public; by various

means, Dr. Fingerhut examined and tried to eliminate the possibility that

tobacco smoking explained the increase in respiratory cancers.

Among the entire cohort of 5172 men, the occurrence of all cancers was

significantly increased, by 15%; in the high-exposure group of 1520 men, the

"all cancers combined" increase was even more pronounced--46%; furthermore

"all cancers combined" were increased among workers at nine of the 12 plants

studied. Even when cancers of the respiratory tract were omitted in an

attempt to eliminate smoking as a possible the cause, "all cancers combined"

was increased among the 5172 and even more so among the high-exposure 1520.

Dr. Fingerhut says correctly that her results do not prove that dioxin

causes cancer in exposed workers. The workers she studied were exposed to

many other chemicals, in addition to dioxin, on the job, and these other

chemicals could explain the cancer increases she observed.

Nevertheless, the Fingerhut study makes it ever more difficult for the

purveyors of dioxin-creating machines (such as incinerators for solid waste,

hazardous waste, or sewage sludge) to claim that their dioxin emissions are

negligible or harmless. Because dioxin accumulates in the food chain, even

small amounts can build up to significant levels as time passes.

An editorial in the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE tried to shed light on

the meaning of the Fingerhut study the day it appeared. [3] The well-known

Canadian biostatistician, John Bailar, wrote, "This evidence is short of

proof, as the authors explain, but it must be taken seriously as a flag of a

probable human risk. If one accepts the best estimate of excess risk given

here (3 deaths observed among the 1520 workers minus 0.3 expected deaths

equals 2.7), the lifetime risk of death from TCDD-related soft-tissue

sarcoma is already approaching 2 per 1000 workers, and it may increase with

additional follow-up study. This estimate falls in a range that is widely

considered unacceptable for occupational hazards, and it is far in excess of

the usual limits for lifetime risk to the public of 1 per 100,000 or 1 per

million. "Despite the problems, which Fingerhut et al. carefully note, this

work is a model of its kind. Occupational cohort studies are inherently

difficult and uncertain, and we are likely to wait a long time for

appreciably better or broader evidence of the effects of TCDD [dioxin] on

human health....

"The hypothesis that low exposures [to dioxin] are entirely safe is

distinctly less tenable now than before," Dr. Bailar said.


Montague, Ph.D.


[1] Bengt-g"ran Svensson and others, "exposure to Dioxins and Dibenzofurans

Through the Consumption of Fish." NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE Vol. 324

(Jan. 3, 1991), pgs. 8-12.."

[2] Peter David, "Dioxin--When was the Danger Known?" NATURE Vol. 303 (May

12, 1983), pg. 104.

[3] John C. Bailar III, "How Dangerous is Dioxin?" NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF

MEDICINE Vol. 324 (Jan. 24, 1991), pgs. 260-262.

And get: Marilyn A. Fingerhut and others, "Cancer Mortality in Workers

Exposed to 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin," NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF

MEDICINE Vol. 324 (Jan. 24, 1991), pgs. 212-218. Reprints free from Dr.

Fingerhut at: Industrywide Studies Branch, Division of Surveillance,

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease

Control, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226.

A more complete report of this research is available under the title



VA: National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Dec., 1990. Available

from NTIS, 5285 Port Royal Rd., Springfield, VA 22161; phone (703) 4874650);

NTIS number PB91-125971. $15.00 + shipping.


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