Vet Toxic Exposure Mosul

Posted: August 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

Researchers in Tennessee say they've discovered scarring inside small airways in the lungs of U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, causing a rare condition called constrictive bronchiolitis. The cause of the scarring — and the number of troops that may have it — isn't yet clear. But the findings, published 21 JUL in the New England Journal of Medicine, could help veterans prove disabilities stemming from their war service. "These guys had very believable stories," said Dr. Robert Miller of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "They were elite athletes. … Now, they can't run 2 miles." Although many were exposed to a 2003 sulfur-mine fire near Mosul, Iraq, not all were, so the cause remains a mystery. In the 2004-09 study, 49 soldiers underwent open-lung biopsies. Of those, 38 were diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis. Twenty-eight of those soldiers had been exposed to the sulfur-mine fire. Vanderbilt is shipping slides to National Jewish Hospital in Denver for further study. Meanwhile, Miller urged the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize the disorder in making disability rulings.
In May 2008 ScienceDaily reported a large group of soldiers returning from Iraq had been diagnosed with bronchiolitis. In that article Miller said the U.S. Department of Defense believes that the Mosul sulfur fire in 2003 which burned for almost a month was deliberately set and considers it a combat-related event. It was the largest ever man-made release of sulfur dioxide and was 100 times greater than the release from the Mount Saint Helen's volcanic eruption. "Air samples collected by the U.S. Army confirmed that sulfur dioxide levels in the area were at toxic levels." A total of 56 soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky were evaluated for unexplained shortness of breath on exertion. Surgical lung biopsies were performed on 31 of the soldiers referred, with 29 having bronchiolitis. Most of those diagnosed with bronchiolitis had a prolonged exposure to sulfur dioxide from the Mosul sulfur mine fire, however, several had no known specific exposures. All of the soldiers evaluated were physically fit at the time of deployment. On return, none of those diagnosed with bronchiolitis met physical training standards. In almost every case they were declared unfit for duty and were medically boarded with a service connected disability. [Source: Detroit Free Press article 25 Jul 2011 ++]


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