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WSJ: Troops in Mideast Face Breathing Ills

 

Burn Pits a Possible Factor as Data Show Higher Rate of Respiratory Woes Among Veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq

By SHIRLEY S. WANG

Troops in Mideast Face Breathing Ills

According to Dr. Anthony Szema and his team at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center: 14.5% of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan developed respirator problems

Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher rate of debilitating respiratory illness than those deployed elsewhere, according to a new study that bolsters concerns among some medical professionals and members of Congress about the potential harm to troops from toxic chemicals and dust in the Middle East.

Soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan complain of lingering coughs, shortness of breath, dizziness and other symptoms. Now, scientists say troops who served in the Middle East have higher rates of respiratory problems compared to those who served elsewhere. WSJ’s Shirley Wang reports.

The findings, which will be presented Wednesday at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in Denver, place renewed urgency on getting at the root of why some young, previously healthy soldiers have been returning from the Middle East complaining of symptoms including shortness of breath and dizziness. In many cases, the soldiers can no longer pass a required physical to continue with active duty.

There appears to be “a modest increase in the incidence of respiratory symptoms in those individuals who have returned from deployment to Southwest Asia,” said Craig Postlewaite, director of the Department of Defense’s Force Readiness and Health Assurance office.

Data collected from more than 7,000 veterans who served between 2004 and 2010—thought to be the largest study of its kind to date—show that some 14.5% of the 1,816 of the veterans in the study who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan had respiratory illnesses, including bronchitis and asthma. That compares with 1.8% of the 5,335 veterans deployed anywhere else, according to researchers in New York state who conducted the study.

Please read full story on the Wall Street Journal website.

 

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