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Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite
continued after the formal set of rules, the Nuremberg Code of 1947, was developed and adopted (see Appendix F).
The committee believes that the individual investigators involved in the WWII testing programs were convinced of the likelihood of great numbers of gas casualties and that they believed their work to be necessary to save lives. Yet, exposure level and injury are key questions in the determination of risk for the affected individuals, and these questions cannot be separated from the consideration of scientific data gleaned from other studies, especially those done with animals. The reliability of the military's official human exposure data is another key question, and these data are undermined by the demonstrated patterns of inconsistency in the reporting of injuries to the subjects, their severity, and their cause.
CONCLUSIONS AND ACTIONS TAKEN
There is no doubt that some veterans who were involved in the chemical warfare testing programs and other circumstances of exposure to mustard agents and Lewisite have been dealing with serious and debilitating diseases for decades. This burden has been further compounded by the secrecy oath taken by the veterans and faithfully kept for nearly 50 years, only to experience the denials of government agencies and their representatives that such tests and activities ever occurred. The committee understands the anger of veterans who believe they have been victims of injustice and neglect. In addition, the committee is greatly impressed by the level of patriotism exhibited by these individuals; almost to a man, they obeyed their orders. Finally, the committee is indebted to the veterans for helping to identify key gaps in the scientific and medical literature. Special attention was given after the public hearing to reviewing again those areas of the literature that were especially lacking in substantive information yet represented the only work relating to certain diseases reported by the veterans.
Another action taken in partial response to the findings of the public hearing process was the addition of a clinical psychologist to the committee. This added expertise facilitated the review of information available regarding the psychological effects of chemical and biological warfare environments and environmental toxins. Thus, the possible psychological health effects of exposure to mustard agents and Lewisite, and of the circumstances of exposure, were treated by the committee with care and importance equal to that of the physiological health effects.
Recognizing the difficulties the veterans had experienced in communicating with various agencies over the years, the committee also requested input from an expert in risk communication. The resulting presentation by Professor Peter Sandman of Rutgers University offered