Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Gulf War Illness is Real and Caused by Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Says Panel
by Lourdes Salvador
According to the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans´ Illnesses, one in four of the 697,000 U.S. veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War suffer from Gulf War illness, a condition caused by exposure to toxic chemicals in pesticides and a pharmaceutical drug.
The U.S. Congress mandated the appointment of a public advisory panel for Gulf War Illness in 1998, and the panel was appointed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2002. Their assignment was largely to determine the cause of Gulf War illness, which differs from the trauma and stress related syndromes suffered by soldiers in other wars.
Veterans of the war experience persistent health problems mostly affecting the brain and nervous system. These health problems include chronic headaches, cognitive difficulties, widespread pain, unexplained fatigue, chronic diarrhea, skin rashes, respiratory problems, and symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and other environmental illnesses. Symptoms vary among individuals, though a consistent illness profile has been identified.
"The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real, that it is the result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time," according to the committee.
The panel found strong evidence that Gulf War illness is consistently and causally associated with pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills and pesticide use during deployment. PB pills were given to soldiers to protect them from effects of nerve agents. Other exposure factors which may be linked in combination include low-level exposure to nerve agents, close proximity to oil well fires, and the receipt of multiple vaccinations.
Veterans of the Gulf War not only suffer Gulf War illness, but also experience high rates of brain cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
The panel summarized with a plea for a renewed federal research commitment to improving the health of Gulf War veterans and preventing similar problems in the future.
The Committee´s website is:
The full panel report may be downloaded from:
Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans´ Illnesses. Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans: Scientific Findings and Recommendations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, November 2008.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2008 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America