Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

committee is able, in the establishment of comprehensive guidelines for handling of these cases.

These recommendations are not meant to ignore the fact that thousands, probably tens of thousands, of other military and civilian personnel were exposed to mustard agents and Lewisite in occupational and training settings, and in combat in the Bari harbor disaster. Some of these exposures will have resulted in one or more of the exposure-related health problems identified in this report; and, in fact, some military personnel who served in the Chemical Warfare Service have qualified for service-connected disability as a result of such exposures. However, many more military personnel were exposed to significant levels of mustard agents or Lewisite than is obvious from service records.

The committee additionally recommends that the Department of Defense (DoD) should use all means at its disposal, including public channels, to identify former chemical warfare production workers (military or civilian) and individuals exposed to mustard agents or Lewisite from gas handling, training, the Bari harbor disaster, or other circumstances. Records of former military personnel could be turned over to the VA for notification, inclusion in morbidity and mortality studies, and health status evaluation. Records of the civilian personnel should be used by the DoD to advise former workers as to their health risks and options for seeking appropriate compensation for any illnesses that resulted from their exposures.

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, therefore, 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 arrived only 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. Even as this report was going to press, veterans were still contacting the committee for information, having just heard about the study and

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