09 February 2013

National Institutes of Health Confirms C-123 Veterans Exposure

In her June 2011 letter to C-123 veterans, Dr. Linda Birnbaum stated "According to the narrative [the USAF C-123 test reports] exposure is assumed based on wipe-tests demonstrating high dioxin concentrations in the C-123K's."

Dr. Birnbaum has the credentials to address this issue, as the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health and also Director of the National Toxicology Program. She's also a member of the Institutes of Medicine of the National Academies of Science, the body to which the VA turns for expert advice about military herbicides.

Thus, it is confusing why the VA pretends her official and obviously expert opinion has no merit. Instead, VA ignores her altogether. Keeping their blinders on, the VA also dismisses the expert opinions of Dr. Jeanne Stellman (Columbia University), Dr. Fred Bowman (Oregon Health Sciences University), Dr. Arnold Schecter (University of Texas), Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk (retired chief scientist Hatfield Constants) and every other expert whose agreement has been added to the case of C-123 veterans' exposure.

Similarly, the VA even dismisses without comment the official and expert opinions of Dr. Tom Sinks, Deputy Director of the CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, who concluded after his review of C-123 contamination, "I believe aircrews operating in this, and similar, environments, were exposed to TCDD." TCDD is the toxic element in Agent Orange. When asked for their input, EPA deferred to Dr. Sinks' official opinion, making it three in favor (CDC, NIH, EPA) of the C-123 veterans, vs. only the VA with their predetermined opposition to any new Agent Orange exposure claims....a matter of internal, unofficial policy, you see. Not law.

Every scientist whose opinion has been offered thus far agrees that C-123 veterans were exposed to "military herbicides" - as reads the law. They agree contaminated C-123 aircraft exposed us to military herbicides in both the scientific meaning of "exposure" as well as the 1991 Agent Orange law, about which the VA in the C.F.R.s stated veterans exposed outside Vietnam would be treated the same as those with boots on the ground. Every other federal agency which has looked into the issue agrees with C-123 veterans' exposure. Only the VA insists, contrary to law, science and logic, that contaminated aircraft did not expose the veterans who served aboard these tainted C-123s.

Clearly, VA's Public Health and Compensation Service departments oppose C-123 veterans' justified Agent Orange claims solely as a matter of personal judgment, not of law. Not of science. Not anything which justifies such intransigence.Washington...what the heck is going on?

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