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Scientists say Pentagon misleads on dust study
Kelly Kennedy – (USA Today) – WASHINGTON – July 6, 2011 – The Pentagon is falsely claiming its research shows that airborne dust in Iraq and Afghanistan poses no health risk to U.S. troops, say three scientists whose review of that research found it riddled with mistakes.
Military officials then falsely said the review of their research backed their conclusion that the dust in the two war zones is no different from that in California, scientists Philip Hopke, Mark Utell and Anthony Wexler say.The scientists, who issued their report last year for the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences, were part of a team that reviewed a 2008 study at the request of the Pentagon.
It is simply not true that research supports the Pentagon’s claim that Middle Eastern dust is similar to that in the United States or that it poses no health risks, says Hopke, a Clarkson University scientist who conducted the National Research Council study.
“It’s a bit disappointing when they know that, realistically, the data does not support that conclusion,” he says.
SHIRLEY S. WANG – (Wall Street Journel) – May 16, 2011 – Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher rate of debilitating respiratory illness than those deployed elsewhere, according to a new study that bolsters concerns among some medical professionals and members of Congress about the potential harm to troops from toxic chemicals and dust in the Middle East.
Soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan complain of lingering coughs, shortness of breath, dizziness and other symptoms. Now, scientists say troops who served in the Middle East have higher rates of respiratory problems compared to those who served elsewhere. WSJ’s Shirley Wang reports.
The findings, which will be presented Wednesday at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in Denver, place renewed urgency on getting at the root of why some young, previously healthy soldiers have been returning from the Middle East complaining of symptoms including shortness of breath and dizziness. In many cases, the soldiers can no longer pass a required physical to continue with active duty.
It shouldn’t startle anyone to find that the Pentagon has blatantly ignored a congressional mandate to start reducing its use of burn pits at U.S. bases overseas.
It was only a year ago that Pentagon officials openly doubted that the black hellfire released from tons of burning hazardous waste in the open air could possibly have any long-term health effects on anyone unlucky enough to be breathing it in everyday.
“When we look at respiratory effects on a population-wide basis,” said Dr. Craig Postlewaite, director of DoD’s force readiness and health assurance, in an interview last September, “we’re not seeing a cause for concern.” The DoD’s official view has so far not changed. So, even as more and more service members come home sick – some of them irreparably, terminally – it would seem the Department of Defense has gone into classic default mode: stall until it becomes impossible to stall any longer.
That may buy the DoD ten years at least, and by then it’ll be the Veterans Administration’s problem.
“They hold with the lie until they are caught so red handed they just can’t lie about it any longer,” says Deb Crawford, who spent time as a civilian electrician in the Green Zone from 2004 to 2006. She now publishes Ms. Sparky.com, a popular watchdog site, and recently spoke with Antiwar.com. “If anyone in the Pentagon were to claim they didn’t think the burn pits were an inherent health hazard to civilians and troops, I would have to call them a bold face liar.” Read the remainder of this entry »
By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 6, 2010
Hundreds of military service members and contractor employees have fallen ill with cancer or severe breathing problems after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they say they were poisoned by thick, black smoke produced by the burning of tons of trash generated on U.S. bases.
In a lawsuit in federal court in Maryland, 241 people from 42 states are suing Houston-based contractor Kellogg Brown & Root, which has operated more than two dozen so-called burn pits in the two countries. The burn pits were used to dispose of plastic water bottles, Styrofoam food containers, mangled bits of metal, paint, solvent, medical waste, even dead animals. The garbage was tossed in, doused with fuel and set on fire.
The military personnel and civilian workers say they inhaled a toxic haze from the pits that caused severe illnesses. Six with leukemia have died, and five are being treated for the disease, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. At night, more than a dozen rely on machines to help them breathe or to monitor their breathing; others use inhalers. Read the remainder of this entry »
By Kelly Kennedy – Staff writer – Army Times
Posted : Wednesday Feb 24, 2010 9:43:08 EST
As Veterans Affairs Department officials laid out a plan for the Institute of Medicine to look for links between certain symptoms and burn-pit exposure, they also quizzed Defense Department scientists about what they’ve already done in that regard.
“We have a particular need to solve this as best as we can,” said Victoria Cassano, acting director of VA’s Environmental Agents Service. “You tell us what the science is. You tell us what the evidence is. Do we have enough to [move] forward with a presumption or not?”
At the first meeting of the IOM’s Committee on the Long-Term Health Consequences of Exposure to Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cassano asked the panel to help VA determine if the symptoms of several sick service members could be linked to exposure to smoke from open-air burn pits in the war zones. Read the remainder of this entry »