Post deployment illness Gulf War

The ground war lasted four days and resulted in 147 battlefield deaths, but almost 199,000 of the 698,000 people who were deployed have since qualified for some degree of service-related disability. Of those, 13,317 people are disabled by "undiagnosed conditions"; Medically Unexplained Symptoms; Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms (MUPS) or Unexplained Symptoms

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Poison powder's damage troops in Iraqi

Adverse health expousures.
During the first Gulf War veterans had run into this material.
Only now it is getting press and Defense Health Affairs are silent.
Back Channels: Many U.S. soldiers now suffering.
Poison powder's damage ignored at Iraqi plant

By Kevin Ferris, Inquirer Columnist

A thick coating of orange powder was everywhere. You sat on it and slept on it.
You walked through it and brushed it off your clothes.
It was on the food and it was part of the air you breathed,
especially when the wind kicked up.

The powder was one of the first things Glen Bootay noticed when, as a combat engineer with the Third Infantry Division, he arrived at the water-treatment facility at Qarmat Ali, Iraq, in April 2003. He even mentioned it to his mom
in a call home.

Another vet told a Senate committee last month that there were about
1,000 100-pound bags of the orange powder at the plant. Medic Russell Powell
said many of the bags "were ripped and exposed to the wind, . . .
placed by doorways and buildings so we had to actually walk through the
piles of the orange powder when we entered and exited the buildings. . . .
We used them as security measures, as sandbags. . . .
There were at least two inches of powder on my boots."

The powder was sodium dichromate, a deadly poison and carcinogen.
Until fleeing Iraqis used it to sabotage the plant, the chemical had
been used as an anticorrosive in water pipes feeding the oil fields.

One expert testified to the Senate committee that "a grain of sand
worth of sodium dichromate per cubic meter could lead to serious
long-term health problems, including cancer." And yet, after a dust storm,
Powell testified, "We'd all look like orange-powdered doughnuts."

Even during his short stay there, Bootay told the committee,
"I started to suffer from nasal congestion and headaches.
I remember that the air tasted like metal."

Complaints were dismissed as allergic reactions to sand and dust.
The powder was called a "minor irritant."
Powell testified: "I and many other soldiers and KBR workers had
severe nosebleeds, coughed up blood, had difficulty breathing, nausea,
and experienced a burning sensation in our lungs and throats. . . .
Many of the soldiers around me began having skin lesions on their
arms, hands, faces, and nostrils."


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