As an ex-Army soldier, this story hit home. You always hear stories from the past about soldiers coming home from war with an 'unknown disease' that are later linked to something that they were exposed to while serving our great country. Do you remember “Agent Orange” or “Gulf War Syndrome”? So is it any surprise that the Afghan/Iraq War would bring soldiers home complaining of respiratory issues?
A new study shows that soldiers are complaining more and more about shortness of breath and reoccurring coughing. Researchers are blaming it on stress and air pollution. At this point, there is not enough history to relate the respiratory issues to anything else they may have been exposed to while serving their country.
The Department of Defense (DOD) Center for Deployment Health Research at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego indicated that Marines were hit hardest by the respiratory condition. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a recent environmental sampling study revealed geologic dusts, smoke from burn pits and heavy metal condensates, including arsenic and lead, as major types of air pollutants in 15 locations of deployment in the Middle East, including Iraq.
The Army Times also reported on the same issues back in early 2009 relating the lung issues to the 'burn pits'. The Army Times also indicated that the lung conditions can only be diagnosed by lung biopsies which is very intrusive. So how long do you think it will be before the answer is found? After the soldiers are deceased and autopsy's can be performed?
There certainly needs to be better protections for our soldiers. It is really sad when the brave men and women fight for our way of life and are sick when they return for unknown reasons.
See the full stories here from the Army Times http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/06/military_burnpits_lungs_063009w/.
And the National Institute of Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_92627.html.
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Hi Melissa - Thanks for bringing up this topic and sharing this important information. We've only recently seen more focus on some of the health issues affecting our men and women in uniform, most notably post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. There hasn't been much focus on respiratory problems, and it's good to see that a study has been done. Now if we can just get more visibility for this problem and some action to take care of it! Thanks for posting, PatDecember 5, 2009 - 1:35pm