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Medical News & Perspectives
June 9, 2010

Report: Study of Gulf War’s Health Effects Falls Short

JAMA. 2010;303(22):2240. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.725

As physicians and scientists struggle to understand the causes of persistent health problems reported by veterans of the Persian Gulf War, a National Research Council (NRC) report is calling for an improved effort to document the health effects of environmental exposures facing servicemen and women currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The NRC was commissioned by the Department of Defense (DOD) to review an effort to assess the health effects of particulate matter exposure on service personnel at 15 sites in the Middle East between 2006 and 2007. In a report released in May, an NRC panel concluded that although the Enhanced Particulate Matter Surveillance Program provided proof of concept that a large surveillance effort could be conducted under war conditions, problems in the program's design and execution made it impossible to answer questions about the health effects of exposure to particulate matter in these environments.