based on health outcomes, both completed or well underway, and new or just beginning; and exposure assessment activities.
The work of this IOM committee, as mentioned in the introduction, was specified under PL 102-585, with the original charge focusing on possible health effects of the oil well fires. Because concerns about adverse health consequences of the PGW have broadened since the law was passed, the IOM committee has considered the full range of potential health effects. Since PL 102-585 was passed in November 1992, the federal government has conducted and sponsored research activities under the auspices of several agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Health and Human Services. The earliest research on potential health consequences included some evaluation of the possible occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the development of models to predict cancer risk from airborne products of the oil well fires. Initially, there were few panels, boards, committees, individuals, or councils to oversee, coordinate, direct, supervise, or advise those conducting the various federal activities.
In May 1993, the VA held the first meeting of an informal "blue ribbon panel" of experts in response to a growing concern that PG veterans were experiencing unexplained illnesses. The group was chartered (October 8, 1993) as the Persian Gulf Expert Scientific Committee to advise the VA Assistant Chief Medical Director for Environmental Medicine and Public Health, and subsequently the VA Undersecretary for Health about medical findings affecting Persian Gulf veterans. The committee is charged to review all aspects of patient care and medical diagnoses, and will provide professional consultation as needed. This VA committee may advise on other areas involving research and development, veteran benefits, and training for patients and staff. The newly chartered committee met in February 1994, and again in April and July 1994. This is an ongoing advisory committee, with no set termination date.
The Department of Defense also assembled a group of experts to examine reports of illnesses that could not be diagnosed. As requested by the Undersecretary of Defense in December 1993, a Task Force of the Defense Science Board (DSB) of the DoD was charged to review scientific and medical evidence relating to long-term health effects of exposure to low levels of neuro-toxic agents. The Task Force on Persian Gulf War Health Effects of the DSB first met in December 1993. Dr. Joshua Lederberg, the Rockefeller University, chaired the proceedings. Following the first meeting, the Task Force requested that the charge be changed to focus deliberations on the cause and effect of the