GULF WAR GAS EXPOSURE
Sent: October 31, 2000 2:22 AM
To: Bruce K. Melson
Subject: FIGURES ON GULF WAR GAS EXPOSURE REVISED
The Washington Post
Saturday, October 28, 2000
By Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press
About 30,000 Persian Gulf War Veterans who were told in 1997 that they were
not exposed to nerve gas will be notified that they probably came in contact
with low levels of the substance, Pentagon officials said yesterday.
Austin Camacho, the Pentagon's spokesman on Gulf War Illness, said the
exposures "are very low levels-- low enough that there is no expectations
a health risk."
Still, the revision will again "raise questions of credibility"
critics of the government's now decade-long effort to answer health
questions of veterans who served, said Vinh Cam, an immunologist and member
of the Special Oversight Board for Department of Defense Investigation of
Gulf War Chemical and Biological Incidents.
The board's chairman, for New Hampshire senator Warren B. Rudman, said the
revision proves the opposite. "It shows [Pentagon officials] have
very hard, with all the evidence, to come back and reevaluate," he said.
"Does it mean any more people are ill? So far there is no evidence
The revision in who was exposed is based on better information on such
details as weather and troop locations, said oversight board spokesman Roger
The issue in question for veterans is what was the health effect--and how
many people were exposed to it--when U.S. forces demolished Iraqi munitions
and rockets at the Khamisiyah weapons depot in March 1991. It turned out
some of the rockets contained the highly toxic sarin and the even more
lethal cyclosarin chemical warfare agents that paralyze the nerves, shutting
down the lungs and other organs.
In a review of work done and still under way on a number of Gulf War
studies, Bernard Rostker, defense undersecretary for personnel, told the
oversight board in its last public session yesterday that officials will
soon release a report revising figures on which of the troops deployed in
the depot area might have been exposed.
The report is to be announced in mid-late November, and letters will be sent
the day of the announcement to about 110,000 troops who were in and around
the area of Khamisiyah, officials said. Of that number, about 99,000
told in 1997 letters that they were believed to have been exposed and 11,000
told that they were not.
Although those numbers remain the same, the specific people believed to have
been exposed has changed because the new study uses better information in
three areas, Kaplan said.
Rostker said that the new report changes only the individuals affected are
not the overall size of the area affected, nor the amount of time the toxins
stayed in the air.