It's been a decade since the Persian Gulf War. But the controversy continues over whether the long-term health problems of some Gulf War veterans were caused by exposure to chemical warfare agents and other hazardous materials. Unfortunately for many veterans and their families, it may never be settled definitively. Despite numerous studies that have investigated the issue, there is not enough evidence to link long-term health problems with exposures to certain drugs, chemicals, and vaccines known to be present during the Gulf War. That's largely because few data are available on the levels of harmful substances to which troops may have been exposed--a critical factor in assessing health effects.

The U.S. military's experience in the Gulf and other deployments sharply illustrates the importance of anticipating and monitoring the potential exposure of troops to hazardous materials in the field. And yet, 10 years later, the Department of Defense (DOD) has made...

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