When Army Sgt. Jayson Williams deployed to Iraq in 2003, he was a healthy 33-year-old who enjoyed the outdoors, running and playing with his son.
When he returned home, he found he couldn’t do routine chores without becoming exhausted or needing to take deep breaths.
He deployed twice more, and his condition worsened. First thought to be emphysema, his diagnosis later was changed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. And after having an invasive lung biopsy, he received even grimmer news — constrictive bronchiolitis, an irreversible lung disease that robs a patient of lung function.
Williams thinks his condition is the result of smoke from a burn pit near his barracks and fumes of a sulfur mine fire that raged for a month near Mosul, spewing toxic materials into the air.
But a growing body of research indicates another factor may contribute to long-term respiratory diseases of veterans like Williams: microscopic dust particles containing heavy metals and other toxins.
A long-term study has found that 14 percent of deployed troops reported chronic respiratory symptoms such as cough, bronchitis, shortness of breath and asthma, compared with 10 percent who did not deploy. The results suggest specific exposures, rather than long exposures, may play a role — particularly among ground troops who deployed to the desert environment of the Persian Gulf.
Navy Capt. Mark Lyles, professor of health and security studies at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., began warning of potential health hazards from fine dust particles in 2003.
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Posted by GPD on February 24, 2014, With 1543 Reads Filed under Health, Veterans Administration (VA). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.