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Activists Urge Greater Medical Support for Gulf War Veterans Exposed to Sarin Gas

posure, showing that troops who had been exposed at higher levels had about 5 percent less white matter than those who had little exposure.

White matter volume varies by individual, but studies have shown that significant shrinkage in adulthood can be a sign of damage.

The study was led by Roberta F. White, chairman of the department of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health. Dr. White and other researchers studied 26 gulf war veterans, half of whom were exposed to the gases, according to a Defense Department modeling of the likely chemical makeup and location of the plume. The researchers found that troops with greater potential exposure had less white matter.

In a companion study, the researchers also tested 140 troops believed to have experienced differing degrees of exposure to the chemical agents to check their fine motor coordination and found a direct relation between performance level and the level of potential exposure. Individuals who were potentially more exposed to the gases had a deterioration in fine motor skills, performing such tests at a level similar to people 20 years older.

Dr. White says this study and the results of research from other studies provide "converging evidence that some gulf war veterans experienced nervous system damage as a result of service, and this is an important development in explaining gulf war illnesses."

Previous research has linked sarin with brain cancer, and Freedom of Information Act requests indicate the Pentagon knew that up to 300,000 Desert Storm troops may have suffered from sarin exposure. Yet veterans seeking support were often told that their symptoms had no physical basis.

The American Journal of Public Health had said two years ago that Khamisiyah veterans were nearly twice as likely as their unexposed peers from the same war to die from brain cancer.

Further analysis showed evidence of an eff
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