Gulf War report links chronic illnesses to chemical agent exposure
(The following is excerpted from the April 1998 issue of "Common Sense," the newsletter of the Chemical Weapons Working Group, published by the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.)
Gulf War veterans and citizens concerned with chemical weapons
incineration were heartened by an October 1997 Congressional report
from the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, which
included in its findings evidence linking Gulf War Illness with veterans'
exposure to chemical agent. In the seven years since Desert Storm,
thousands of Gulf War veterans have suffered not only from debilitating
illnesses, but from the Department of Defense's denial that chemical
agent and other warfare toxics played a role in the illnesses. DoD has
long maintained that "what we don't know about chemical agents won't
hurt us." The report, titled Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses: VA, DoD
Continue to Resist Strong Evidence Linking Toxic Causes to Chronic Health
Effects, stated that
* VA (Veterans' Affairs) and DoD (Department of Defense) health registry diagnosis protocols continue to be based on the unwarranted conclusion that, unless there is an immediate and acute reaction, exposures to chemical weapons and other toxins do not cause delayed or chronic symptoms; and
* Exposures to low levels of chemical warfare agents and other toxins can cause delayed, chronic health effects.
The burden of proving that health problems resulted from exposure to low levels of chemical agent has been on the shoulders of sick veterans and civilians. Hopefully, this document and the continuing work of veterans' and grassroots organizations will result in shifting that burden to DoD. Until we find out whether or not there is a safe level of exposure, DOD should assume that no level is safe.
For more information on Gulf War Illness, please contact National Gulf War Resource Center at 800-882-1316 x162.
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