The investigation uncovered no substantiated information to support a connection between the processing and/or handling of retrograded materials and the symptoms reported by veterans. To determine whether retrograde equipment and vehicles were a cause of unexplained illnesses in Gulf War veterans, investigators sought to: 1) qualitatively and quantitatively confirm the presence of contamination; 2) verify that exposure to contaminated equipment occurred; and 3) look for evidence that diagnoses by the medical community had been prepared for any of the reported symptoms. These factors are critical to characterizing exposure and establishing a causal relationship between contamination and adverse health effects.

Results to date do not support a link between exposures and the medical symptoms or adverse health effects being experienced by some veterans, that is, there is no pattern of illness that supports a causal relationship. While a large number of US personnel came into contact with retrograde equipment and vehicles in the KTO, there are no monitoring or sampling data available that would confirm the presence of any contaminants on these materials. Moreover, investigators have not been able to identify the existence of any diagnoses that connect chronic health effects and exposure to retrograded materials. While a number of acute symptoms have been self-reported, the reported symptoms are wide and varied (e.g., skin rashes, memory loss, digestive disorders, joint ache, etc.), and may have arisen as a result of any number of possible medical reasons.

Furthermore, there were no reports of adverse health effects at the major equipment and vehicle processing locations visited by investigators. There were, however, reported incidents involving civilian workers at two sites. These incidents occurred at the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston Alabama and Camp Robinson in Arkansas (see TAB F). The Anniston incident involved workers exposed to the chromium contained in the chemical-biological-radiological (CBR) filters of M1A1 tanks. In this case shop workers developed a number of symptoms, primarily rashes, after coming in contact with the filters. The filters were tested for radiological and chemical parameters and found to be negative. A high chromium content was detected, however, as chromium is a component of the filter media. The Camp Robinson incident involved shop workers who complained of similar symptoms after working on retrograde equipment. Symptoms were short-term (i.e., none of the shop workers interviewed during this investigation are currently suffering from any of the symptoms initially reported) and were attributed to work-place conditions and not the equipment on which they were working.[3]

Additionally, site visits to equipment manufacturers suggest that there was nothing in the manufacturing process (e.g., chemical components or additives) of specific equipment items that could lead to the onset of symptoms.

Finally, results to date regarding exposure incidents at sites within the United States are inconclusive and in some cases conflicting. The health symptoms reported across and within the sites often varied. With the noted exception of Camp Robinson (TAB F)[4], no clear pattern exists among individuals with common exposure scenarios or symptoms, and individual recollections of possible exposure scenarios are often incomplete and vary among individuals at a given location.

The Presidential Special Oversight Board concluded it was unlikely that additional research into incidents at these or other locations would lead to any new data or a different interpretation of the existing data, and therefore directed the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses to curtail further research in this case.

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