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Dust In Iraq And Afghanistan Causes Health Risk To Troops

July 7, 2011

Three scientists have said that the Pentagon is falsely claiming its research shows that airborne dust in Iraq and Afghanistan poses no health risk to U.S. troops.

Scientists Philip Hopke, Mark Utell and Anthony Wexler say that military officials then falsely said the review of their research backed their conclusion that the dust in the two war zones is no different from than in California.

The scientists were part of a team that reviewed a 2008 study at the request of the Pentagon.  The scientists issued their report last year for the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to the 2010 study, the earlier report made a series of incorrect conclusions and used faulty research methods.

Utell, a professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, said the 2010 study suggested there was a possibility of negative health effects from the dust and that the 2008 research was so flawed “that they wouldn’t be able to determine that with their study.”

“It’s a bit disappointing when they know that, realistically, the data does not support that conclusion,” Hopke told USA Today.

Since the start of the wars in 2003 and 2001, respiratory issues among U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have jumped by 47 percent.

According to USA Today, Johann Engelbrecht, the Desert Research Institute scientist who led the 2008 study, said the council report was “probably a fair judgment” and that he planned to use its recommendations for his upcoming report.

Image Caption: A guard tower at Camp Victory, Iraq sits a silent vigil in another of Iraq’s dust storms. Eighteen dust storms occurred in the Baghdad area during the May/June 2008 timeframe. Credit: US Army

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