Dr. Fred Berman, Director of the Toxicology Information Center at Oregon Health Sciences University has been carefully looking into the issue of aircrew dioxin exposure aboard the C-123 during the post-Vietnam War years of 1972-1982. After listening to the VA's response to our concerns and the VA position that crews somehow weren't exposed, he and his associates conducted an extensive literature search (described below) and were unable to find any research supporting the VA hypothesis. Indeed, they found exactly the opposite, citing a 2004 study entitled "Surface dust criteria for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds for re-entry to buildings." Basically, this study showed that the C-123 was about 500% MORE contaminated with dioxin than would be permitted in buildings after cleanup following 9/11.
The VA recently "explained" that while the aircraft certainly tested positive as "heavily contaminated" with dioxin, aircrews were miraculously unexposed. Part of their position was that chemical swipes were used to test surfaces...yet that is the standard method of testing! The VA experts actually offered the standard method of testing for dioxin contamination, mentioned repeatedly in their own papers we discussed, as their "proof" to conclude our crews couldn't have been exposed. That's twisting science to win your argument...and that's not science! That's like saying because 105mm shells kill on impact, bullets won't!
They suggest that because solvents were used, solvents are the only way for dioxin exposure to occur. Don't know if they've ever looked at the sweat and oil on a loadmaster's hands, at the normal body oils and soil accumulated after long days of loading, flying, unloading and repairing a filthy C-123 Provider! Plenty of skin solvents to allow dioxin transfer! Dioxin transferred!
Another part of the VA maneuver against us was their claim that dust-borne dioxin wasn't inhaled...they say there was no dust. Guess they've never been aboard a rapid cargo or airevac configuration, or an airdrop. Dust and dirt everywhere. Repairs, setting up and tearing down seats, laying and removing the cargo rollers...dust everywhere! Dioxin everywhere! Dioxin inhaled!
The VA has a duty to assist veterans in submitting disability claims, rather than construct arguments to insure they don't qualify. There must be a preponderance of evidence against a veteran's claim, and the benefit of the doubt must rest with the veteran. Thus far, despite the earnest participation of VA experts in the recent teleconference, there has been no assistance. There is no preponderance of evidence against our claim of exposure--there is in fact a preponderance of evidence in support of our claim!
|Dr. Berman's Letter to Senator Burr's Staff:|