Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why Soldiers Are Coming Home Sick

A team of physicians at Vanderbilt University headed by Robert Miller, M.D. associate professor of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine have concluded that, it is apparent that respiratory problems are the illness of our current wars in the Middle East.

Dr, Miller has been studying soldiers who have been exposed to burn pits smoke and fumes in
Iraq and Afghanistan. “So far, all but a few of these soldiers we have biopsied have come back with pathology diagnosing constrictive bronchiolitis,” Miller said. Constrictive bronchiolitis is a narrowing of the tiniest and deepest airways of the lungs.

Participating inn the medical program is Joyce Johnson, M.D., professor of Pathology. She has been studying tissue from open lung biopsies of returning soldiers. “These are striking abnormalities in this otherwise young and healthy population. We need broad, national recognition that this is a complication of being in this theater,” Johnson said.
Click here to read more about burn pit exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Click here to read more about burn pit claims for benefits and lawsuits. Call Jon L. Gelman at 973.696.7900 or e-mail jon@gelmans.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Report Urges Worldwide Ban on Asbestos as Fatal Dangers Continues

Corporate greed resulting in the loss of life is the conclusion of a major investigative report just published concerning the worldwide asbestos trade and global epidemic of disease. The report, strongly urging the rationale for a worldwide ban of asbestos, has been published in print simultaneously with the release of a series of audio broadcasts.

The investigative reports have been published by 
The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) based on the investigative reporting of  the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC)  joint venture with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Jim Morris of CPI reports, "A global network of lobby groups has spent nearly $100 million since the mid-1980s to preserve the market for asbestos, a carcinogen now banned or restricted in 52 countries. Scientists say asbestos may cause up to 10 million deaths by 2030, with a mounting toll in the developing world."
Asbestos, for decades, has been linked to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma remains an incurable and fatal disease. 

Asbestos contamination remains an international problem. Recent reports indicate that US military troops have been exposed to asbestos in Iraq and Afghanistan through indiscriminate use of burn pits by military contractor.

As a supporter for the improved health and welfare of individuals against hazardous occupational and environmental exposures, Jon L. Gelman advocates for changes in safety standards and safer use of chemicals.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

VA Publishes New Regulations for Stress Related Claims

The Veterans Administration did not specifically address burn pit and environmental exposures in the new stress regulations or its commentary. That issue remains undecided and it appears as of today that case by case review will determine whether those claims will be approved.

"The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its adjudication regulations governing service connection for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by liberalizing in some cases the evidentiary standard for establishing the required inservice stressor. This amendment eliminates the requirement for corroborating that the claimed inservice stressor occurred if a stressor claimed by a veteran is related to the veteran's fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and a VA psychiatrist or psychologist, or a psychiatrist or psychologist with whom VA has contracted, confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a diagnosis of PTSD and that the veteran's symptoms are related to the claimed stressor, provided that the claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran's service.

"This amendment takes into consideration the current scientific research studies relating PTSD to exposure to hostile military and terrorist actions. The amendment acknowledges the inherently stressful nature of the places, types, and circumstances of service in which fear of hostile military or terrorist activities is ongoing. With this amendment, the evidentiary standard of establishing an inservice stressor will be reduced in these cases. The amendment will facilitate the timely processing of PTSD claims by simplifying the development and research procedures that apply to these claims.

The Regulation was published in the Federal Register on July 13, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 133) 
DATES: Effective Date: This final rule is effective July 12, 2010.
Applicability Date: This final rule applies to an application for service connection for PTSD that:
-Is received by VA on or after July 12, 2010;
-Was received by VA before July 12, 2010 but has not been decided by a VA regional office as of that date;
-Is appealed to the Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) on or after July 12, 2010;
-Was appealed to the Board before July 12, 2010 but has not been decided by the Board as of that date; or
-Is pending before VA on or after July 12, 2010 because the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Veterans Court) vacated a Board decision on the application and remanded it for readjudication.
"One commenter stated the term ``stressor'' is ambiguous and may lead one to believe that the rule applies only if a veteran can identify a single specific event instead of hostile military or terrorist activity generally. One commenter suggested that the rule should apply as well to a series of events or the totality of circumstances of deployment to a combat zone. Another commenter questioned the meaning of the phrase ``consistent with the . . . circumstances of service'' and doubted whether an examiner would ever find that a traumatic event experienced by a veteran who had an MOS of cook is consistent with the circumstances of the veteran's service. Another commenter inquired about whether the examiner would be responsible for determining whether the stressor is consistent with the veteran's service.

"VA believes that the language in the proposed rule is not ambiguous. As stated in the rule, `` `fear of hostile military or terrorist activity' means that a veteran experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or circumstance.'' (Emphasis added). The term ``circumstance'' means ``a condition, fact, or event accompanying, conditioning, or determining another: an essential or inevitable concomitant.'' Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 242 (1990). Therefore, the rule provides that a veteran's ``fear'' need not emanate from a single event or be consistent with the veteran's MOS but rather the fear may result from conditions to which the veteran was exposed during service. The requirement that a claimed stressor be consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran's service originates in the statute that authorizes this regulation, 38 U.S.C. 1154(a), which requires VA to duly consider the places, types and circumstances of the veteran's service. In addition, consistent with section 1154(a), VA regulations provide that consistency with the places, types, and circumstances of service is shown by the veteran's service records, the official history of each organization in which the veteran served, medical records, and all pertinent medical and lay evidence. 38 CFR 3.303(a). Finally, VA adjudicators, not examining psychiatrists and psychologists, will decide whether the claimed stressor is consistent with the veteran's service.

As a supporter for the improved health and welfare of individuals against hazardous occupational and environmental exposures, Jon L. Gelman advocates for changes in safety standards and safer use of chemicals.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

President Announces Change for VA Benefits

On Saturday President Obama announced that there will a dramatic change if the VA benefits program for post traumatic stress (PTSD) disorders. The program is to be announce by the VA Administration on Monday. It is uncertain how this change will impact those who suffered burn pit exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"For their service and sacrifice, warm words of thanks from a grateful nation are more than warranted, but they aren't nearly enough. We also owe our veterans the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned. We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. It's a commitment that begins at enlistment, and it must never end. But we know that for too long, we've fallen short of meeting that commitment. Too many wounded warriors go without the care that they need. Too many veterans don't receive the support that they've earned. Too many who once wore our nation's uniform now sleep in our nation's streets."
President Obama, March 19, 2009

As a supporter for the improved health and welfare of individuals against hazardous occupational and environmental exposures, Jon L. Gelman advocates for changes in safety standards and safer use of chemicals.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Medical Study Confirms Lung Problems From Balad Burn Pit Exposure

A new medical study is about to be published reporting that a those soldiers who were were near burn pits in Iraq suffer a greater incidence of lung disease.

The report will be published next month in the journal of Allergy and Asthma Proceedings and comes a few days after a similar study by the American Lung Association that urged that the burn pits be shut down immediately  because the emissions contain significant amount of cancer producing chemicals.

The research was conducted by Dr, Anthony Szema who reported the significant increase in illness. He studies soldiers who were deployed at Balad Air Base. His research revealed that 7% of those soldiers were  assigned to Balad reported respiratory condition upon their return. The doctor said, "“We shouldn’t be seeing these injuries,” he said. “But we’re not supposed to be living 100 yards away from where they’re burning water bottles and other waste either.”

The increased disease has been cause for alarm by the Veteran's Administration. The agency last month published guidelines for claims for shoulders with burn pit claim and resulting medical issues. 

Dr. Szema, Chief of the Allergy Section at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport, New York, recently testified to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee that burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistanare making our soldiers sick. "Individuals have reported uncontrolled burning of waste in the burn pits in Iraq. The chemicals generated from slow, low-heat burning present a variety of health risks. The type of plastic (PVC) used to make plastic bottles produces dioxin and hydrochloric acid when burned. These chemicals are associated with immune dysfunction, IQ deficit, and reproductive abnormalities. Polystyrene foam cups can be a source of carcinogens including dioxin, benzene, styrene and furans when burned. Chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood contains pro-carcinogenic arsenic. Bleached or colored paper contains harmful chemicals. Bleached paper contains halogenated hydrocarbons and furans associated with leukemia and liver disease. Colored paper contains heavy metals like lead and cadmium associated with blood, liver and kidney disease. Particle board and plywood release formaldehyde when burned; this is associated with nose and throat cancer, as well as liver and kidney disease and airway inflammation. Cardboard used for packaging of foodstuffs may contain fungicides which are associated with neurological disorders. The variety of materials burned at the burn pits in Iraq produces an enormous array of chemicals which may plausibly combine when burned to produce unknown dangers."
Click here to read more about burn pit exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan.