Toxic Dust and Heavy Metals

The previous post referred to research which suggests that toxic dust found in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait may be contributing to adverse health effects for many U.S. military personnel. The following article appearing in the Army Times lists some of the researchers' specific findings pertaining to heavy metals.

Microbiologists Dale Griffin of the U.S. Geologic Survey and Capt. Mark Lyles of the Naval War College analyzed dust samples taken in Iraq and Kuwait in 2004 and found a wide range of heavy metals at rates in excess of World Health Organization maximum safe exposure guidelines. Some don’t even have maximum exposure guidelines because they are not expected to be present in airborne dust. The elements of “greatest concern” and the proportions found in dust samples:

Arsenic at 10 parts per million: poisonous and can cause long-term health effects or death.

Chromium at 52 parts per million: linked to lung cancer and respiratory ailments.

Lead at 138 parts per million: can lead to headaches, nausea, muscle weakness and fatigue.

Nickel at 562 parts per million: can lead to lung cancer, respiratory issues, birth defects and heart disorders.

Cobalt at 10 parts per million: can lead to asthma and pneumonia.

Strontium at 2,700 parts per million: linked to cancer.

Tin at 8 parts per million: can cause depression, liver damage, immune system and chromosomal disorders, a shortage of red blood cells, and brain damage that can lead to anger, sleeping disorders, forgetfulness and headaches.

Vanadium at 49 parts per million: can cause lung and eye irritation, damage to the nervous system, behavioral changes and nervousness.

Zinc at 206 parts per million: can cause anemia and nervous system disorders.

Manganese at 352 parts per million: linked to metabolic issues, Parkinson’s disease and bronchitis.

Barium at 463 parts per million: can cause breathing problems, heart palpitations, muscle weakness and heart and liver damage.

Aluminum at 7,521 parts per million. Aluminum was of particular concern to Lyles and Griffin because the metal has recently been linked to “multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.”

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