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Gulf War Web Site

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UPDATE: JANUARY 2001

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    According to the Material Safety Data Sheets published by the United States Senate in 1994, Tabun (GA), Sarin (GB), Soman (GD), and VX may be toxic at levels far below the levels at which they become incapacitating or lethal. Pre-war intelligence indicated Iraq could have had all four agents in their arsenal. Due to post war inspections we now believe that only Sarin was available. The levels at which these chemical agents become toxic rather than incapacitating or lethal is important only in the circumstances in which they are used, either intentional or accidental.
    According to Public Law #105-277 signed October 21, 1998 ALL! Gulf War Veterans are presumed have been exposed to Sarin during their service in the Gulf.
    Many commercial pesticides are based on the same organophosphates compounds as military nerve agents. The main difference being the concentrated strength of the agent. The military versions are so dangerous in the concentrated form that only limited, controlled testing can be done (i.e. no open air testing and no human studies). I say that with reservation. A very small open air test was done at Dugway Proving Grounds in conjunction with the DOD-CIA investigation of the explosion at Khamisiyah. For complete details of this test, go to the CIA link found in the website. Currently, only the long term studies of Sarin exposure are going on in Japan, using the victims of the 1995 Tokyo Subway Terrorist Attack.
    In 1997, a research team headed by Dr. Robert W. Haley, of the University of Texas Southwestern, presented clinical data suggesting a neuropathalogical basis for three distinct syndromes which are commonly grouped together to form the Gulf War Syndrome. The strength of this data included the observation of a difference in brainstem evoked potentials in deployed gulf War Veterans as opposed to a matched set of controls (JAMA January, 1997).
Another research published April 18, 2000 indicated brainstem electrical abnormalities found in Gulf War Veterans mirrored those found in the Tokyo subway attack. That brain abnormalities may be related to chemical exposure during the Gulf War was supported by strong epidemiologic associations between the three primary and the known wartime risk factors.

Sarin (Khamisiyah) - Accidental detonation
Pesticides - Direct contact through animal flee collars
Pyridostigmine - used to counter suspected Somon threat
Diethyltoluamide (DEET) - government issued insect repellent used since Vietnam

    Not only was an elevated exposure risk to these potential neurotoxins documented in symptomatic veterans, but a biochemical explanation for a higher susceptibility to these chemicals was demonstrated in the same group of veterans. Specifically, the symptomatic veterans had substantially lower blood levels of paraoxanse - 1 type Q. PON-Q is a genetically controlled enzyme that hydrolyzes or (liquefies) organophosphates chemical warfare agents and some pesticides. That this genetic polymorphism (changing) may predispose some people to deep brain structure abnormalities comparable to Parkinson's Disease is well recognized.
    The fact that different individuals have different genetically controlled amounts of the enzymes would explain why some individuals, who served under the same conditions while others do not. (Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Vol. 122 April 2000.)
    In June 2000, colleagues of Dr. Haley led by Dr. James L. Fleckenstein, published the results of their study titled "Brain Abnormalities in Gulf War Syndrome: Evaluations with 1H MR Spectroscopy1." The purpose of this test was to check for neuronal brain damage in the basal ganglia and the brainstem in Gulf War Veterans. The rationale for focusing MR Spectroscopy on the basal ganglia and the brainstem was the range of symptoms reported by Gulf War Veterans is consistent with well understood degenerative diseases of the basal ganglia and the brainstem, such as Huntington Disease, Wilson Hepatolenticular Degeneration, and Fahr Disease. These well understood diseases often begin with personality changes, irritability, cognitive impairments, particularly in executive functions (i.e. memory, concentration, attention, span, and changes in speech, attacks of vertigo, central pain, and mood disorders).
    Proton (1H) MR Spectroscopy is a non-invasive, easily tolerated radiological technique used to explore brain chemistry in living individuals. By measuring intercellular concentration of protons this technique estimates the concentrations of specific abundant brain chemicals in small volumes of the brain.
    The results of this study in which brain biochemical measurements obtained with MR Spectroscopy were compared in ill veterans and in healthy controlled subjects, confirm a reduction of functioning neuronal mass in the basal ganglia and the brainstem of greatest severity in Gulf War syndrome 2 (confusion-ataxia and of intermediate severity in syndrome 1 (impaired cognition), and 3 ("central pain"). the finding of reduced neuronal mass in the basal ganglia and brainstem has at least three important implications for understanding Gulf War Syndrome. It provides a plausible anatomic explanation for previous clinical, genetic, and epidemiologic finding that is consistent with well understood diseases of deep brain structure. It completes a chain of evidence linking Gulf War Syndrome with injury from wartime organophosphate exposure. And, it highlights MR Spectroscopy as a potential useful biomarker in diagnosis of Gulf War Syndrome.

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