Gulf War Illiness from Iraq War 1991 and Veterans Health Impact

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The environmental impact on United States (U.S.) soldiers serving in Iraq during 1991continues to manifest itself  during 2008.

The Research Advisory Report on Gulf War Veterans’s illnesses .

The Congressionally-mandated Research Advisory Report on the Gulf War Veterans’ Illiness was issued on November 17, 2008.  It concluded that from 175,000 to 210,000 of U.S. suffer from the diseases associated with it.

  • Gulf War Illness is described as a complex of multiple concurent symptoms including:
  • Presistent memory and concentration problems.
  • Chronic headaches.
  • Widespread pain.
  • Gastrointestinal problems including chronic abnormalities.

There are no effective treatments aimed specifically for the Illness and few veterans have recovered over time.

Neurotoxic Exposures

Two neuotoxic have been causually associated with Gulf War illness:

  1. Pyridostigmine bromide (PB) that was given to troops to protect them from the effects of nerve agents.
  2. Pesticides used during deployment.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)  has reported that U.S. personnel used or had available at least 64 pesticides and related products, containing 37 active agredients.  Fifteen of these were identified as “pesticides of potential concern based on what was known about the use and toxic effects of the compounds.

These pesticides included:

  • Seven organophosphates.
  • Three carbamates.
  • Two pyrethroids.
  • One organochlorine.
  • Two forms of the insect repellant DEET used on the skin.
  • Permethrin sprayed onto uniforms.

Environmental Health Exposures

The types of environmental health risks from exposure include:

  • Low-levels of nerve agents.
  • Close proximity to oil well fires.
  • Receipt of multiple vaccines.
  • Combinations of all three.

Many experts wonder today if the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are also being exposed to the same risks as those who served in during Gulf War 1991.  Meanwhile, these veterans continue to suffer while the experts debate whether or not there is such a thing as Gulf War Illness.


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