Gas plume caused Gulf War Syndrome?

| December 15, 2012

USAToday reports that a study has concluded that a US attack on Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapon facility caused a plume of poisonous gas which blew back on US troops and may be the reason for the Gulf War Syndrome;

The Jan. 18, 1991, bombings of the munitions plants in Nasiriyah and Khamisiya blew a plume of sarin gas high above a layer of cold, still air — also called the boundary level — and into a swift wind stream that carried the gas to Saudi Arabia, said the study conducted by researchers Robert Haley and James Tuite and published in the journal Neuroepidemiology.

The gas plumes, the researchers said, can be blamed for symptoms of Gulf War illness, the mysterious ailment that has affected more than 250,000 veterans of the war.

The gas set off repeated chemical weapons alarms at U.S. troop points in Saudi Arabia, the report said, but commanders said they were false alarms, because if the troops had been hit with sarin gas, there would have been casualties. There were no casualties, although U.S., Czech and French systems all detected traces of sarin and mustard agent.

I guess this would explain why many Gulf War veterans are being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease) despite the fact that they have no family history of the disease.

Category: Veteran Health Care

Comments (22)

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  1. JP says:

    I know many people who’ve suspected something like this all along.

  2. UpNorth says:

    My oldest son related that their gas alarms went off while they were moving into Kuwait.

  3. DefendUSA says:

    Jonn- Sadly, 80-90% of cases of ALS have no family history or genetic indications. There are people with genetic mutations that never develop the disease, but that does not mean environmental factors should be ruled out. In this case, the VA should be taking care of these people because it cannot be proven otherwise.

  4. Desert Storm says:

    My unit was 40 miles from the border (in the netural zone), would see the bombings of Iraqui units at night, next morning M-8 alarms would go off. Were told that it was from the humidity.
    Still have a picture where the Czec NBC unit got live readings by the soccer stadium in Hafar Al Batin.

  5. DaveO says:

    Question being: will DoD and VA recognize the study as providing a scientific, provable study of the cause of Gulf War Syndrome?

    It’s all well and good to know the truth, or even a truth.

  6. COB6 says:

    Jonn, our Chaplain was diagnosed with ALS about a year after the war. If you recall, we wound down on the Basra/Baghdad Highway. Actually not far at all from Nasiriyah and in the direct line of the prevailing eastward wind. Other than the Chaplain however, I am unaware of anyone else from our unit.

  7. skh.pcola says:

    I was attached to the 2d Marine Division, going from Saudi Arabia on a westerly route up into Kuwait City. Our alarms went off all of the time, which made me distrust them. I also had NCOs forcing me to take those damned little white pills that made me dizzy and nauseous. I shake like crazy all of the time, which has been commented upon by my VA doc, but I’ve never pursued the cause. Maybe I need to get enrolled in the Gulf War Registry and see if there’s something wrong with me.

  8. Desert Storm says:

    After returning to Germany, started breaking out in rashes on upper body. Doc could give no reason but had it documented many times in medical records. Of course the VA says there is nothing from DS to relate the rash. Retired in ’94, still an issue. (Agent orange sound familiar)?

  9. Rock8 says:

    An unfortunate aspect of this story is that the technology told the troops they were being exposed, but they & their leaders convinced themselves otherwise. I hope some protocols change so that this gets remedied.

  10. MAJMike says:

    Heard this theory circulate almost from the begining. Why is medicine so hesitant to properly study and diagonse this probable cause?

  11. OldSoldier54 says:

    @9 Rock

    Seems sort of like what pilots learning to fly by instrument:

    “Trust your instruments, ignore anything else.”

    When three different sets of instrumentation (US, Czech and French), all built by different companies with different designs, were all indicating that Sarin and Mustard agents were present …

    This was a leadership failure. This study makes sense. Any failure to use it to connect the dots would be a failure of common sense.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Something to consider here is that there are many powerful Democrats in this country who loudly and quite smugly proclaimed there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and therefore no reason to go to war in the first place. This specious argument, broadly supported by the compliant media, formed the basis of their largely successful attacks on George W. Bush. For this Democrat administration to now admit not only to the presence of Sarin and Mustard gas stores in Iraq, but also to the fact that these weapons of mass destruction grossly wounded perhaps a quarter million troops, is not a likely event.

    Ask yourself, would the Obama administration would screw all these ailing veterans to protect some of its most powerful political allies? You bet your ass it would.

  13. Poetrooper says:

    Once again, Old Fart Poetrooper clicked on submit before clicking in his username. #12 is mine.

  14. jonp says:

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Not taking a position either way but “gulf war syndrome” might be caused by a ton of things and to try and pin it on one thing in an AH HA moment might not be correct. I would like to see more research on a possible cause and not just “a yellow cloud” which could anything.

  15. hey, snakeeyezz here, from

    I am glad that all that can be documented! that is what we have been trying to prove for so long! We knew it happened! We were there! Alot of VA doctors Owe Alot of apologies for the its in your head crap!! After thinking on it night after night for years, i had just about given up on ever making any headway without getting everyone involved, involved, we still need to network til everyone is taken care of, and has service connected disability and back pay for those twenty years!!!

  16. what is sad is that many diagnosed with ptsd, have it from not being believed about their illness! I am and have been bitter for years, reclusive from family and friends, and close family!
    On top of that many the diagnosis may be wrong, many just agreed probably because they were sick and trying to prove it to people who thought they were crazy or lazy!

    Some had no resources or time to play the doctor merrygoround, and or the going to a VA doctor and asking if the doctor has read your medical history and the doctor replies, no Mr C. I have not read your medical history!
    But we think you have ptsd! Hears a presciption!

  17. I was with the 24th ID out of Ft. Stewart, Ga. during Desert Storm. My unit was about two miles from that plume. I remember that plume like it was yesterday. I wasn’t very afraid during the war, but when I was standing out there looking over at what we were told was an Iraqi Air Field while they were blowing up the bunkers. This plume rose hundreds of feet into the air like a mushroom cloud. That scared me. I started trying to find out what it was, because that cloub was much different than all the others. I was told that there were some Iraqis in a bunker shooting back at the engineers because they didn’t realize the war was over. They said the engineers had to shoot into bunker with a heavier artilery round and blew it up. That didn’t explain to me why it looked like a mushroom cloud. I have been sick for over twenty one years. I am 80% disabled, but try finding a job when you can’t stand long, lift much, walk much, chronic headaches, chronic pain, anxiety issues, anger issues, and 50 years old among other symptoms.

  18. Gulf war veteran MP says:

    I was a military police officer army and was in Saudi in 1990s had the alarms go off, was given all the shots, pills, etc. had a normal life, wife, home, job, kids. Have been diagnosed 50% ptsd, have been getting physically worse over the past two years. Lost everything , started over trying to get docs to figure out what’s wrong with me. I was a big strong man now I can barely get out of bed, I have severe panic attacks, pains that don’t make sense. I’ve had ibs forever , went to er for it, lft with nerve damage in my left arm due to dumb nurse left turniquet on for 3 hrs, they pumped me full of pain meds, didn’t even check my arm. Now I get anxious and panic at the thought of going to the VA. Anyway the va has not trained the nurses, docs about any of this….

  19. Gulf war veteran MP says:

    Please friend me on face book my name is “gulf War” my fiancée is posting a lot of info from the gulf war also have a page”gulfwar” please join us to help one another, and to make the govt pay attention!!!’

  20. Our alarms went off to that day!! I was with the 3rd ACR during the time. We did unmasking procedures which I had to participate in being the only Native American around for miles.When I ETS I received a letter some years later saying my unit was there in possible danger.Well no shit I knew we were there,but nobody knows how much exposure we got to the gas?

  21. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    “study has concluded that a US attack on Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapon facility caused a plume of poisonous gas which blew back on US troops and may be the reason for the Gulf War Syndrome”

    In a dark office in a secret corner of the basement of the VA HQ offices in Washington, DC a panel of the V’s only experts on this issue have called a meeting to discuss the latest findings.

    Chairman: “so where do we start, considering this new information”?

    Panelist: “ah … err … maybe we should … ah …hire more people with litle or no skills to review the gobbs of paperwork we make veteran’s fill out”.

    Chairman: “I completely agree, this concludes our meeting”.

    Nothing short of Congressional Hearings coupled with a BIG FAT Class Action Law Suit will fill the bill on this one!

  22. Joe Williams says:

    Welcome to the Agent Orange Treatment Part II. The A.O. mistreatment took us(Nam Vets) about 20 years and a class action suit for our conditions to accepted by the VA. I pray this does not you Sand warriors as long. Joe