1990 Gulf War - Troops exposed to sarin risk brain damage

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Mr_Bridger, May 17, 2007.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. All,

    I thought this might be of interest :


    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have found evidence that the kind of low-level exposure to sarin gas experienced by more than 100,000 U.S. troops in the first Gulf war can cause "lasting brain deficits," The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

    Approximately one in seven of the 700,000 troops deployed in the first Gulf war experienced a mysterious set of ailments, with problems including persistent fatigue, chronic headaches, joint pain and nausea, the paper noted in the story to appear in Thursday's print edition.

    The Veterans Affairs department says those symptoms persist today for more than 150,000 troops, more than the number of troops exposed to the gases.

    Anyone know where and when they would have been exposed? Were our boys exposed? have they been tested?

  2. Quote from article : "Far more research will have to be done before it is known whether those illnesses can be traced to exposure to sarin, the Times reported, and the long-term effects of sarin exposure on the brain are not well understood."

    There are a variety of disease mechanisms and etiologies that can cause damage to connective tissue. I'd be careful not to jump on this particular bandwagon until there's been a lot more research.

    And yes, I was on GRANBY. As an MO.
  3. After all it's been 17 years now. How long do they need? I reckon we need another couple of decades of avoiding research and investigation on this first...wait until the numbers go down a lot....then admit there may be some contributory factors..but there'll need to be yet more research..and as it was so long ago and evidence was lost....
  4. I appreciate that the cause of the problems seen may yet have to be finalized. There are two things I'm curious about :

    "that the kind of low-level exposure to sarin gas experienced by more than 100,000 U.S. troops in the first Gulf war"

    a) I wasn't aware that anyone had been exposed to Sarin gas
    b) 100,000 troops showing symptoms is a lot more than the 20 you need for a sample to be statiscally significant.

    There are a number of questions this raises.
  5. I agree. In Riyadh and other parts of the desert 8) we had NAIAD and CAM going off but it was put down to technical fault and aviation fuel if I remember correctly.
  6. Apparently it as been suggested a WMD cache was half heartedly destroyed in an air attack, not suffieciently to destroy all agents but to allow an amount to escape and be dispresed in low levels over a wide area. Would need to do more research to give the details and probably not worthwhile as the information was based mostly on hearsay and assumptions.
  7. My outfit during the gulf war, 1/2nd ACR, was less than a mile from the Khamiseyah detonation. Got a nifty form letter from the DOD a day or so before Christmas four years ago giving acknowledgement that we were exposed. No ill effects so far for any of the guys or myself who were out there together but we had taken than innnoculation which was supposed to "coat" the nerve axioms and prevent problems with low dosage exposure to nerve agent. National gaurd units in the area were not so well prepared as they did not receive the shot... veterans from those organizations apparently are suffering a high rate of nervous disorders. Not surprising, stonewalling in a manner similar to what agent orange sufferers endured is going on.

    At khamiseyah, the rockets were clearly marked as being chemical ones (in cyrillic of course) yet the ordinance "experts" with the engineers responsible for their destruction apparently overlooked them in the rush to complete the mission.
  8. I'd not heard of this (but then it's been a long while!). This being the case, 100,000 soldiers would still be covering a massive area. Unless of course they all trundled through the area of concern. I don't recall this making the news back then either (but then thats probably not surprising)
  9. Not so much hearsay then - outside of a court of law would seem pretty definitive.
  10. There's something about this in the King's College Defence Research publication from last year (sorry I'm at work and it's at home!).

    IIRC it's not 'scientists' but ONE scientist who has proposed this theory of sarin gas, and no-one else, independent or otherwise has been able or willing to back up his claims. I'll post the accurate KC view, including the name of the scientist proposing this theory once I get home.
  11. Thanks, psychobabble, looking forward to it. But surely it is not merely a 'theory' that large numbers of US troops (and possibly UK troops) may have been exposed to small doses of sarin from the Al Khamisiyah demolitions. Nor is it just a single scientist who has postulated that even small doses of this nerve poison may have caused a range of specific illnesses. In fact Simon Wessely, a psychiatrist at King's College London, has taken a rather different view from those scientists who directly point to sarin as a cause.

    New Scientist article, Nov 2004
  12. Is it not the case that any such theories published as articles in respected journals must be peer reviewed by at least three independent colleagues? Thus while not endorsing or agreeing with the theory proposed by one scientist accepting a degree at least of plausibility.
    Did that make ANY sense?
  13. Wessely has changed his mind rather since that article. He now says that organo phosphates are NOT to blame. In brief they compared nervous system functioning in a number those individuals with health problems and a similar number without health problems using a battery of neurophysiological tests. Although the ill veterans reported symptoms that could possibly be caused by OP, the tests used did not show that, and indeed, showed that test results of ill and well veterans were virtually the same, with no statistically significant differences.

    I quote;

    The (test) resultsmade it very unlikely indeed that poisoning by OP pesticides or any other OP agents had occurred. Overall there was no evidence of any damage to the peripheral nerves, neuromuscular junction or muscle. Two years later a much larger study of US Gulf veterans and their families have confirmed these results.

    The other section that I referred to previously is this, quoted verbatim;

    One centre, based in Dallas under the leadership of Prof. Robert Haley, has produced a series of studies whose conclusions are at variance not just with our own (ie that Gulf War Syndrome does not exist as a single condition) , but also with the conclusions of other large scale studies.

    On the basis of what are mainly small scale studies drawn from a single reserve construction battalion, Prof Haley continues to argue that Gulf veterans have been affected by the long term side effects of very low levels of the nerve gas Sarin. He has stated that this was as a consequence of an unnoticed attack by Iraqi forces during the early part of the ground campaign. However military and intelligence sources do not support this view and the scientific community has not been convinced by this argument.

    So Prof Haley isn't referring to ammo dump detonations, but to a single attack early in the campaign, which as far as anyone knows simply didn't happen. Also his sample size is tiny (400 or so) compared to the large scale studies that have looked at numbers of soldiers in the 100,000 range and who didn't find any evidence of Sarin.

    The quote is from King's Centre for Military Health Research: A Ten Year Report, Section 1, The Health Consequences of the 1991 Gulf War. Authors Prof Simon Wessely and Prof Christpher Dandeker