Tags: gulf | war | syndrome | sarin

Gulf War Syndrome Caused by Sarin Nerve Gas, Not Just Stress, Study Says

Friday, 14 Dec 2012 10:52 AM

By Megan Anderle

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A new scientific paper on illnesses of veterans of the Persian Gulf War seeks to debunk a commonly-held Pentagon position on Gulf War Syndrome. The study claims that nerve agents such as sarin gas released by the bombing of Iraqi chemical weapons depots could have drifted on wind patterns and affected American troops in Saudi Arabia.

The Pentagon and many other scientists have maintained that neurotoxins released, including sarin gas, did not carry far enough to affect U.S. troops in the 1991 war.

Rather, the Pentagon maintained that Gulf War syndrome — which affects some 25 percent of Gulf War vets — is characterized by memory loss, lack of concentration, fatigue, neuropathic pain and depression. The Pentagon has long argued that these are not treatable physiological conditions but a form of combat stress.

Many veterans, however, insist that their problems are not the result of stress but have a biological basis.

This is one of several papers authors James J. Tuite and Dr. Robert Haley have written on chemical exposures and gulf war illnesses. Tuite and Haley have compiled data from meteorological and intelligence reports to support that chemicals were whisked high into the atmosphere and spread hundreds of miles from Muthanna and Fallujah to the Saudi border.

Even though troops would have been exposed to low levels, the authors say troops were exposed for a few days, increasing the impact.

Hundreds of medical experts have weighed in on 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 New York Times reports.

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 Times” reports.

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