MCS Referral & Resources

professional outreach, patient support and public advocacy

devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, accommodation and prevention

of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Disorders

Press Release -- For Immediate Release, Monday 10 October 1994

For More Information, Call
Albert Donnay, 410-448-3319

Deployment To Kuwait Risks More Persian Gulf Illness

U.S. forces currently being deployed in the Persian Gulf risk coming home with the same devastating illness contracted by thousands of Gulf War veterans, warns Dr. Grace Ziem, M.D., Dr.P.H., an independent occupational and environmental medicine physician in Baltimore who is treating several Gulf veterans. The greatest risk, according to Dr. Ziem, is not that Iraq may use chemical or biological weapons--although the U.S. must be better prepared for this eventuality--but that U.S. commanders may again intentionally expose U.S. troops--in their own camps, ships, and vehicles--to a highly toxic mix of pesticides, insuffuciently tested drugs, and petrochemical fuels. These exposures, Dr. Ziem reports, are a likely cause of the symptoms of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity now being seen in so many Gulf veterans.

Dr. Ziem is calling on the Department of Defense to abandon several dangerous practices from the last Gulf War, including the repeated soaking of troops' uniforms in pesticides, allowing troops to take uncontrolled amounts of pyridostigmine bromide (an anti-nerve gas agent) without medical supervision, intentionally spraying oil throughout U.S. encampments to control dust, and encouraging the use of kerosene heaters in unventilated tents. If allowed to recur, Dr. Ziem believes, these types of exposures almost surely will result in new cases of Persian Gulf illness, regardless of whether chemical or biological weapons are fired.

"The Department of Defense can no longer claim ignorance of the living conditions under its control," says Dr. Ziem, who has shared her views with government officials on numerous occasions. "I only hope they have learned from their mistakes, so that thousands more troops will not needlessly be made ill." Dr. Ziem's statement was released today by MCS Referral and Resources, a non-profit educational organization for which she serves as medical director.

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