Epidemiologic evidence of health effects from long-distance transit of chemical weapons fallout from bombing early in the 1991 Persian Gulf War

Robert W. Haley, James J. Tuite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Military intelligence data published in a companion paper explain how chemical fallout from US and Coalition bombing of Iraqi chemical weapons facilities early in the air campaign transited long distance, triggering nerve agent alarms and exposing US troops. We report the findings of a population-based survey designed to test competing hypotheses on the impact on chronic Gulf War illness of nerve agent from early-war bombing versus post-war demolition. Methods: The US Military Health Survey performed computer-assisted telephone interviews of a stratified random sample of Gulf War-era veterans (n = 8,020). Early-war exposure was measured by having heard nerve agent alarms and post-war exposure, by the computer-generated plume from the Khamisiyah demolition. Gulf War illness was measured by two widely published case definitions. Results: The OR (95% CI) for the association of alarms with the Factor case definition was 4.13 (95% CI 2.51-6.80) compared with 1.21 (95% CI 0.86-1.69) for the Khamisiyah plume. There was a dose-related trend for the number of alarms (ptrend < 0.001) but not for the number of days in the Khamisiyah plume (ptrend = 0.17). Conclusions: Exposure to low-level sarin nerve agent in fallout from bombing early in the air campaign contributed more to chronic illness than post-war demolition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-189
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroepidemiology
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

Keywords

  • Chemical alarms
  • Chemical warfare agents
  • Persian Gulf syndrome
  • Sarin
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical Neurology

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