Sick Veterans 'Inhaled Metal': Researchers

Experts describe 'Iraq-Afghanistan war lung injury'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2014 11:14 AM CDT
Sick Veterans 'Inhaled Metal': Researchers
Researchers say they've found titanium in soldiers' lungs.   (Shutterstock)

Pulmonary and respiratory diseases have been on the rise in US troops, and researchers are pointing to a possible culprit: metal in their lungs. Experts at Stony Brook University performed lung tests on six ill soldiers "and found titanium in every single one of them," says researcher Anthony Szema. The titanium matched dust found at Iraq's Camp Victory. "They've inhaled metal," Szema tells USA Today. "It's not a little; it's a lot."

The dust could be a result of burning waste, including vehicles and unexploded ordnance; it could also be leftover from Gulf War bombings; or it may be natural. In the lungs, the dust can form sharp-edged crystals the body can't get rid of. In mice, the dust cut T-cell counts to less than 30% of their previous figures, resulting in a threat to the immune system. Some 14% of service members who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan have developed new respiratory issues, Szema says; his team is calling the problem "Iraq-Afghanistan war lung injury," the Military Times reports. (More Iraq stories.)

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