Magazine article VFW Magazine

Sailors Dismiss SHAD Findings

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Sailors Dismiss SHAD Findings

Article excerpt

A study of the health of some 6,000 sailors exposed to chemical and biological weapons 40 years ago was incomplete, say the test subjects. by Tim Dyhouse

Findings from a four-year study of the health effects on sailors participating in chemical and biological weapons tests in the 1960s and early 1970s are flawed, say the surviving test subjects. They believe the study neglected to survey those sailors who were exposed to the highest levels of chemicals.

The weapons testing, known as Project SHAD, or Shipboard Hazard and Defense, included more than 6,000 sailors, 17 Navy ships and five Army tugs. Conducted between 1962 and 1973, the tests evaluated how well sailors could detect and respond to chemical or biological attacks.

Many of the agents used in the test were presumably "innocuous simulants" such as Bacillus globigii and zinc cadmium sulfide, but some tests used toxic nerve gasses such as sarin and VX, an infectious bacteria. Many of the sailors involved in the SHAD tests were aware they were participating, but some were not.

In 2004, the Institute of Medicine began studying the medical records of sailors involved in the tests and mailed questionnaires to about 5,500 SHAD participants. It compared their health to similar sailors who did not participate in the SHAD tests. About 61% of SHAD vets and 47% of control group veterans responded.

"The differences in the rates of medical symptoms and conditions experienced by each group were slight for the most part, and the study authors found no consistent specific patterns of ill health among SHAD veterans," the report stated. …

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