NBC Weapons: Medical Mysteries of the Persian Gulf



June 4, 2007: A new study on American troops suffering from, what has come to be known as "Gulf War Syndrome," indicates that the common link among all the ill troops may be low level exposure to Iraqi Sarin nerve gas in 1991. The Boston University School of Medicine study asserts that as many as 100,000 U.S. troops may have been close enough to the destroyed Sarin warheads, to have ingested tiny amounts of the nerve agent.

Not a lot is known about the long term effects of low dosages of nerve gas. There are thousands of Iranian soldiers, who were exposed to non-lethal doses of sarin, and other types of nerve gas, during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Few of those Iranian victims have been examined as closely as most U.S. veterans. Because of Irans diplomatic isolation over the last three decades, it's been impossible to get any cooperation with them on this issue. Iran did allow some of their chemical weapons casualties to be treated in European hospitals, but this yielded little data on low level nerve gas exposure.

Medical personnel who have spent a lot of time in the Persian Gulf, or are native to the region, believe the Gulf War Syndrome is more a reaction of non-natives to the many hostile organisms common to the region. A Department of Defense medical study in the late 1970s came to the same conclusion, and warned policy makers that there would be cases of mysterious ailments of large numbers of U.S. troops were sent to the Persian Gulf for any length of time. All this was before Iraq or Iraq were manufacturing nerve gas, which has now become yet another potential health risk in the region.


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