Tests that link troops to illness

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The Independent Online
New medical evidence that Gulf War illness was caused by the use of chemicals in the conflict has been presented to the Commons Defence Select Committee.

Privately funded research by Dr Goran Jamal, a consultant neurophysiologist, found "little doubt" that veterans became seriously ill after their exposure to pesticides and other chemicals in the desert.

Dr Jamal, who is based at the Institute of Neurological Science at Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, was funded to carry out extensive tests on two veterans who were exposed to organophosphate pesticides (OPs). One soldier had been required to carry out pesticide spraying after having taken several inoculations and NAPS tablets as protection against chemical weapon attacks.

The veteran now has a series of long-term neuro-behavioural symptoms, including memory loss, mood swings and fatigue.

Dr Jamal concluded the soldier had suffered permanent damage and had "little doubt his present problems are related to his exposure to pesticides and the other risk factors which he encountered in the Gulf".

Tests on a second veteran, whose tent was sprayed with OPs, also linked his neurological condition to the combination of OPs, NAPS and "low-level chemical warfare agents" in the Gulf.

The results support tests carried out on 14 veterans by Dr Jamal two years ago. He recently resigned from a panel advising government departments on the effects of OPs on human health owing to establishment opposition to his work.

Later this month, the Committee will issue a report on Gulf War illness, which is expected to put great pressure on the Ministry of Defence.

The Committee has also been examining possible compensation schemes for victims.