First observed on war veterans that served during Operation Desert Storm, will the then newfangled disorder then dubbed by the press as Gulf War Syndrome ever be demystified by medical science as a real health disorder?
By: Ringo Bones
Since its identification around 1992 and the publication of a then controversial findings by Dr. András Korényi-Both, a newly identified health disorder now known as Gulf War Syndrome could easily be dismissed by those with vested interests as nothing more than a form of post traumatic hypochondria. This is probably due to the broad spectrum of the disorder’s symptoms that tend to be chronic and undiagnosable. Not to mention the myriad of probable causes, but by the mid 1990s, a number of scientist had probably pinned down two broad types of the disorder that is now popularly referred to as Gulf War Syndrome.
The Biochemical Interaction Theory: Even though this aspect of the Gulf War Syndrome was proven by a study made by a Duke University pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donia and his team where they published a report back in April 1995. Stating the results of their study that a combination of pesticides and insect repellants – like DEET – used by soldiers during the 1990-1991 Gulf War caused nerve damage in chickens. And also the use of an anti-nerve gas agent, called pyridostigmine bromide tends to impair the body’s ability to break down toxic chemicals – like those found in the insect repellant DEET – as it enters the body. Even though Dr. Abou-Donia and his team’s study had been used as a guide in more recent studies on lawn chemicals used in a majority of American homes and their interaction with asthma medication to produce Gulf War Syndrome like symptoms. It has implications that this disorder probably didn’t start during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War.
There are anecdotes that date back during the early years of the Vietnam War, probably before the mosquito repellant DEET became a standard issue, about a US soldier who was almost driven to insanity by pestering mosquitoes. The soldier, according to the story, was eventually forced to take his nap under the mud of the nearest rice paddy completely immersing himself in which he used his standard issue gas mask and a drinking straw as a breathing device. When DEET became standard issue, it is safe to assume that it could have exacerbated the toxic effects of the Monsanto manufactured defoliant called Agent Orange, which became in widespread use during the height of the Vietnam War.
Those “experimental” vaccine adjuvants issued during Operation Desert Shield are also suspected as one of the contributors of some of the symptoms that fall into the category of Gulf War Syndrome. Adjuvants are substances that potentiate an immune response and the only adjuvant licensed for use in humans at present is alum – an aluminum salt. But during Operation Desert Shield, experimental vaccines that could protect coalition troops against Saddam Hussein’s biological arsenal contained a not yet thoroughly tested adjuvant called MF59 - a squalene containing adjuvant – which many suspect as the primary cause of the symptoms experienced by many veterans of the first Gulf War. Even the anthrax “anti-toxoid” issued during Operation Desert Shield contains the most adjuvants like aluminum hydroxide, formaldehyde and benzalkonium chloride.
Another suspected cause of Gulf War Syndrome that had gained recent reevaluation is the use of depleted uranium munitions. Due to its inherent pyrophoric and armor piercing capabilities, depleted uranium – which is nothing more that uranium-238 fashioned for ballistic use – had virtually replaced those tungsten cored magnesium and white phosphorous pyrotechnic armor-piercing incendiary rounds of a generation ago due to depleted uranium’s indefinite shelf-life. And due to its density, munitions experts suggests that depleted uranium has the ability to absorb any residual alpha particles, thus making concerns of its inherent radioactivity groundless.
But studies conducted by Dr. Asaf Durakovic on a number of 1991 Gulf War vets suffering from Gulf War Syndrome had shown that almost all of them had suffered chromosomal damage via alpha particle exposure. Thus making depleted uranium as another primary suspect of this newly uncovered syndrome. And the depleted uranium issue also recently raised concern when a March 4, 2010 broadcast of the BBC when their correspondent John Simpson was covering a story on the rise of birth defects in Fallujah. Where many blamed the use of depleted uranium-containing munitions during the infamous Battle of Fallujah back in April 2004. Did the US DoD issued depleted uranium-containing versions of the SS 109 / M-855 5.56mm X 45mm ammunition back then?
So far it seems the scientific community has found findings of Dr. Asaf Durakovic on the harmful effects of depleted uranium as the primary suspects of Gulf War Syndrome. Simply because it is transformed as an easily breathable vapor every time it does its intended function – i.e. as an armor piercing incendiary munitions. Thus explaining why how harmful levels of chromosome-damaging alpha particles could affect anyone that spent a significant amount of time in a depleted uranium strewn battlefield.