Whitesburg KY

VA: No link between chemicals, illnesses



In 2003, the National Academy of Sciences was asked to review scientific evidence and investigate whether there was a link between pesticide and solvent exposure and illness in veterans who served in the Gulf War, and to report back to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Some of the chemicals studied include dry-cleaning solvents and benzene.

The NAS found what it called “Sufficient Evidence of a Causal Association” between benzene exposures and acute leukemia, as well as aplastic anemia. It found “sufficient evidence of an association” between exposure to benzene and leukemia and chronic exposure to solvents and leukemia. It found “limited/suggestive evidence of an association” between dry-cleaning solvents and bladder cancer; solvents and bladder cancer – and more.

Recently, the secretary of the VA issued a determination stating that there is no link, no “presumption of service connection,” between illnesses and exposure, saying there’s no evidence that the solvents or insecticides were used “in a manner that differed significantly from their usage in other military and civilian populations.”

VA officials presumably wrote all this (printed in the Federal Register) with a straight face, and then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot by quoting from the DoD. Specifically:

• There’s little information about the extent to which the insecticides and solvents were used.

• The Environmental Protection Agency has since placed restrictions on some of the pesticides.

• Not all personnel were trained in the use of solvents, and some didn’t have the right protective gear.

• At least 41,000 service members could have been overexposed to pesticides.

To read the report online, go to www.iom.edu/ and click on “Military and Veterans.” Look for the February 2003 report “Volume 2 on Insecticides and Solvents.”

Write to Freddy Groves in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475, or send e-mail to columnreply@gmail.com.

©2007 King Features Synd.

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