Cover Image

PAPERBACK
$111.75



View/Hide Left Panel

This committee discovered that an atmosphere of secrecy still exists to some extent regarding the WWII testing programs. Although many documents pertaining to the WWII testing programs were declassified shortly after the war ended, others were not. Of those declassified, many remained "restricted" to the present day and are not released to the public. As a result, the committee often had great difficulty obtaining information. For example, only one of the three major chamber test locations, the Naval Research Laboratory, freely shared technical reports and detailed summaries with the committee from the beginning of the study. For other locations, such information only arrived as the study was in its final stages, despite months of requests and inquiries to a variety of offices. The committee is certain that other relevant information exists that was never obtained. It is also clear that there may be many exposed veterans and workers who took an oath of secrecy during WWII and remain true to that oath even today. Veterans, who had just heard about the study and thought it might now be permissible to reveal their experiences, were still contacting the committee for information up until the very end of the study. Such continuing secrecy, in the committee's view, has impeded well-informed health care for thousands of people. Therefore, the committee recommends that the VA and DoD publicly announce and widely advertise that personnel exposed to mustard agents or Lewisite during their service are released from any oath of secrecy taken at the time. In addition, professional educational materials should be prepared by the DoD or the VA, or both, and made available for physicians who may be treating affected individuals. These materials should incorporate the latest information regarding the long-term health effects of exposure to mustard agents and Lewisite.

There is no doubt that the long-term health consequences of exposure to mustard agents or Lewisite can be serious and, in some cases, devastating. This report has demonstrated that complete knowledge of these long-term consequences has been and still is sorely lacking, resulting in great costs to some of those exposed in WWII. The lack of knowledge, however, has ongoing ramifications as nations will probably continue to use these chemical weapons in battle or begin to grapple with their disposal. Thus, accidental and deliberate human exposures to mustard agents and Lewisite can only be expected to continue in the foreseeable future.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement