Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Biden Announces Plans To Detect And Treat Veterinary Diseases From Toxic Air

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden, son of Bo who was a veteran of the Iraq War, is using his first Veterans Day in Office to announce efforts to better understand, identify and treat diseases plaguing troops stationed in toxic environments …

According to the White House, efforts are focused on the lung problems plaguing soldiers breathing in toxins and the potential link between rare forms of cancer and time spent abroad breathing bad air. Federal officials plan to start by looking at lung and breathing problems, but say they will expand their efforts as science identifies potential new connections.

Biden traveled to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Thursday to take part in the wreath-laying ceremony and make comments.

The new federal measures are also meant to make it easier for veterans to make complaints based on their symptoms, collect more data from soldiers who are suffering, and give veterans more time to file medical complaints after symptoms such as asthma and sinus problems develop.

“We are discovering that there are a number of lung diseases associated with deployment,” said Dr. Richard Meehan, an immunologist and rheumatologist. A retired U.S. Naval Reserve officer who served in the Middle East in the 1990s and then in 2008, is co-director of the Denver National Jewish Medical Center of Excellence for Deployment-Related Lung Disease.

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Biden hypothesized a potential link between his son Bo’s death from aggressive brain cancer after returning from Iraq and his exposure to toxins in the air, especially around massive pits where the military burns waste. There is no scientific evidence to support this connection.

Beau Biden’s death was a defining moment for Joe Biden, who, he says, influenced his decision not to participate in the 2016 presidential race. The younger Biden served from October 2008 to September 2009 as a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard. In 2013, he was diagnosed with a tumor and died two years later at the age of 46.

Meehan, who is researching the role of inhalation exposure among military personnel stationed in Southwest Asia with colleagues, said the problem is not only in the pits for burning fires – the air quality in some countries is so poor that troops will not be allowed to work there in compliance with federal civil operating guidelines. The center receives funding from the Ministry of Defense as well as from private donors.

Meehan is concerned that soldiers who have returned with breathing problems are being compared to other Americans to determine if there is a higher incidence of lung disease. But those sent to the U.S. Army are in great physical shape, stronger and better than the average American. It is very unusual to come back without being able to climb stairs without panting, or not being able to lift anything without breathing.

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“When you compare them to another group, you have to compare them to another healthy, suitable group,” Meehan said. “This is one of the problems that has been overlooked in studies that have not shown an increase in cancer incidence.”

The new rules will allow veterans to file claims within 10 years of service, and the government has changed the way it determines which symptoms count and why.

The US military has been aware of the health risks associated with outdoor incineration pits for years. In 2013, federal investigators found that a military camp in Afghanistan had been operating the pit for more than five years, nearly four times longer than Pentagon regulations allowed. The Department of Defense said the incineration pits should only be used as a last resort when no other alternative method of garbage disposal is possible, but they have been in use for years.

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This story has been corrected to show that the hospital is called the National Jewish Hospital and not the National Jewish Hospital.

Nation World News Desk
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