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The Gulf War in 1990-1991 was considered a brief and successful military operation, with few injuries or deaths of US troops. The war began in August 1990, and the last US ground troops returned home by June 1991. Although most Gulf War veterans resumed their normal activities, many soon began reporting a variety of nonexplained health problems that they attributed to their participation in the Gulf War, including chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain, loss of concentration, forgetfulness, headache, and rash. Because of concerns about the veterans' health problems, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the scientific and medical literature on the long-term adverse health effects of agents to which the Gulf War veterans may have been exposed. This report is a broad overview of the toxicology of sarin and cyclosarin. It assesses the biologic plausibility with respect to the compounds in question and health effects.
Gulf War and Health, Volume 2, is the second in a series of congressionally-mandated studies by the Institute of Medicine that provides a comprehensive assessment of the available scientific literature on potential health effects of exposure to certain biological, chemical, and environmental agents associated with the Gulf War. In this second study, the committee evaluated the published, peer-reviewed literature on exposure to insecticides and solvents thought to have been present during the 1990-1991 war. Because little information exists on actual exposure levels - a critical factor when assessing health effects - the committee could not draw specific conclusions about the health problems of Gulf War veterans. However, the study found some evidence, although usually limited, to link specific long-term health outcomes with exposure to certain insecticides and solvents. The next phase of the series will examine the literature on potential health effects associated with exposure to selected environmental pollutants and particulates, such as oil-well fires and jet fuels.
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