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  Latest News  
  December 22, 2004  


  Environmental Risks To Gulf War Veterans
Institute of Medicine review finds some link to lung cancer from exposure to smoke, fuels

  An Institute of Medicine review has concluded that veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War may have an increased risk of lung cancer because of war-related exposures to air pollution, vehicle exhaust, and other combustible products.

“Studies of people exposed to air pollution, vehicle exhaust, and burning of coal or other heating and cooking fuels consistently show that such exposures are linked to an increased risk for developing lung cancer,” says IOM committee chair Lynn R. Goldman, professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. She adds that the IOM review “provides sufficient evidence that exposure to combustion products during the Gulf War could be associated with lung cancer in some veterans.”

For most other illnesses, the committee could find only limited or insufficient evidence of any increased health risk. This finding applies to most cancers, including oral, nasal, and bladder cancer, and to asthma and to low birth weight and preterm births by women exposed while pregnant.

The committee found in reviewing 800 studies that there is scant information about the actual exposure levels of pollutants to service members, an issue that prevented the committee from drawing more specific conclusions about health problems veterans might experience. There was no systemic monitoring during the war of air contamination from oil-well fires and from other combustion sources, such as heaters or engines. And there are no data allowing comparisons between levels of exposure to air contaminated during the Gulf War and air with similar contamination in civilian settings.

This is the third study IOM has made of health issues for Gulf War veterans. The complete report can be found on the Web at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11180.html.
  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2004

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