Is This the Next Agent Orange?

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Soldiers who served in Afghanistan, Iraq or Kuwait inhaled aluminum, nickel, lead and chromium in microscopic dust according to research led by a Navy medical officer. Officials at the Defense Department have dismissed the findings. The story is reported in USA Today by Kelly Kennedy.  

Researchers tested lung biopsies from soldiers complaining of reduced respiratory lung function, neurological problems and heart ailments discovered the micro particles – smaller than normal dust particles – and found traces of 37 different metals as well as fungi and bacteria that could cause disease. Navy Capt. Mark Lyles, chair of medical sciences and biotechnology at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. led the study which was supported by research at Murray State, the University of Alaska and Vanderbilt.

Defense Department officials say the dust in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan is no different from that in the Sahara. But tests by the U.S. Geological Survey turned up metals and bacteria in the dust.

It took a generation for the VA to really get its head around the problems exposure to Agent Orange caused for Vietnam veterans. Exposure to toxins in the air caused Gulf War syndrome. Now this. Dr. Lyle and the other researchers grasp that this is a major problem and we are just beginning to understand it. DoD and VA bureaucrats need to get ahead of this quickly.