2 March 2006.
(KWVHealthS Report 2005 - D).
After 1945 (the start of the disastrous Chemical Plague) the Korean War was the first war in their military history in which Australian military personnel were regularly exposed, often simultaneously, without any essential precautions whatever, to a diverse, wide range of toxic/neurotoxic chemicals, including insecticides, pesticides, miticides, rodenticides, toxic paints, herbicides, toxic pharmaceuticals, inerts, solvents, toxic petrochemicals, Radon gas and other toxic chemicals in accordance with written instructions in the Australian, British and Canadian “Handbook of Army Health 1950” and other written instructions issued in the field including the then secret instruction issued by the US Commander of 8th Army authorizing aerial spraying of our own forces with toxic chemicals using a variety of aircraft - albeit in all cases no doubt with the best of intentions as at that time the terrible effects of such exposures were apparently not known or understood.
As the decades went by after the Korean War there gradually became an increasingly concerned awareness that all was not well with those Korean War veterans. For unexplained, unknown reasons too many were dying too early and of those remaining too many, confused and bewildered, were complaining of an ever increasing wide range of debilitating symptoms and illnesses which their doctors, untrained in these matters, did not or did not want to understand. For almost 50 years all efforts to get the authorities and the medical profession interested in their plight were ignored.
Following earlier, unsuccessful attempts to get the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to undertake studies for Korean War veterans I was asked to join with a small group which included Dr John Bradley to fight for acceptance. A small, independent committee was established. As a result of a well supported submission carefully prepared by Dr John Bradley and myself the then Minister for Veterans’ Affairs very reluctantly, having rejected earlier attempts, was forced to agree in October 1997 to a Mortality Study to be completed in 3 years. But he would not approve any limited Health studies at that time - they only followed much later after much additional pressure.
The drawn out battle to finally get what is a truncated Health study against entrenched denial, obstruction, intransigence and obfuscation took a heavy toll on our small committee. No doubt this was a contributing cause in the untimely, unexpected deaths of both our Chairman and Dr Bradley. As predicted the resultant Health Study Report released in 2005 has significant shortcomings, and like the Mortality Study Report, deliberately and wrongly avoided addressing the effects of toxic chemicals despite our best efforts. The first meeting of the Mortality Study committees was in February 1988 without an essential Terms of Reference (which were apparently never promulgated) and without an essential accepted Protocol which was apparently only internally produced some years later (and not provided to us when requested) and which was clearly written to deliberately exclude (1) all matters concerning toxic chemicals and the many illnesses which can result there from and (2) all our other recommendations for inclusion in the contents of that document, contrary to assurances from the Minister.
1. The Mortality Study Report – Mortality Study 2003: Korean Veterans of the Korean War (1950-1956). It was produced more than 6 years after our request was approved. It was quietly published on 19 March 2004 on the Internet: http://www.dva.gov.au/media/publicat/2003/kwmortality/
Surprisingly, despite its dramatic, disturbing conclusions that reveal elevated causes of death significantly higher that those of the cohort or in the Vietnam Veterans Morality Study Report it appears to have received little or no media coverage or political or medical comment. It deliberately avoided addressing the effects of exposures to toxic chemicals – one of the 3 major issues to be examined. The figures provide at least indirect support to the reality of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or Chemical Injury or Chemically Induced Illnesses or Diseases as a clinical disease not of psychological or psychogenic origin. Army Veterans had a 31% increased rate for all cause mortality and for 13 other causes, namely circulatory diseases were elevated by 20% with rates from ischemic heart disease and stroke elevated by 18% and 22% respectively, neoplasms by 41%, external causes by 58%, suicides by 53%, death rate from all respiratory diseases by 48%, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 69%, repiratory diseases excluding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 57%, all digestive diseases by 57%, including diseases of the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts by 51%, peptic ulcer by 90% and alcoholic liver disease elevated by 47%, compared to equivalent Australian males.
On 5 April 2004 I forwarded a brief summary of that report (kwvmsr5) to the MCS Global Recognition Campaign for acceptance of all chemically induced illnesses, diseases and injury affecting civilians and military personnel including MCS – together with a signed copy of a letter supporting the contents of my research by Malcolm Hooper Ph.D., B.Pharm.C.Chem.,MRIC, Emeritus Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Sunderland, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Gulf Veterans’ Association who, at his request, had visited my home on 1 October 2003 to study my research and be given copies of much of it. Both were published on the MCS global website:
2. The Cancer Incidence Study Report - Korean War Veterans Cancer Incidence Study 2003 was published 2 December 2003 more than 6 years after our request was approved. Similar comments apply. In relation to cancers the increased or elevated death rate overall for lung cancer was 47%, gastrointestinal cancer by 18%, colo-rectal cancer by 18%, genito-urinary cancer by 24%, cancers of the head and neck by 96%, cancer of the oesophagus by 59%, cancer of the larynx by 95% and cancer of unknown primary site by 5l%. The dramatically elevated rates for cancers for the army for those listed were 69%, 24%, 22%, 90%, 82%, 67%, 144% and 77% respectively. The report can be downloaded from:
3. The Health Study Report - Health Study 2005: Korean Veterans of the Korean War (1950-1956) was published in 2005, 8 years after our request was approved. Surprisingly, despite its dramatic, disturbing conclusions that reveal dramatically elevated levels in (1) general poor health, (2) in each of the only 15 medical conditions investigated, (3) PTSD and (4) a death rate all significantly greater than the cohort of average Australian males it appears to have received little or no media coverage or political or medical comment. It deliberately avoided addressing the effects of exposures to toxic chemicals – one of the 3 major issues to be examined. The figures provide at least indirect support to the reality of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or Chemical Injury or Chemically Induced Illnesses or Diseases as a clinical disease not of psychological or psychogenic origin. It was also quietly released in 2005 on the Internet:
Korean War Veterans are defined in each of those study reports as members of the Australian Army, RAN or RAAF who served in the Korea Operational Area between 27 June 1950 and 19 April 1956 in accordance with Schedule 2 of the VEA 1986. Thus in accordance with a wealth of consistent, binding, Federal legislation each of those Korean War veterans who served there between those dates were legally on Operational Service, Active Service, War Service and Hazardous Service and all have Qualifying Service and all deaths of those veterans who died as a result of that service are legally War-caused deaths. Every Korean War veteran who served there between those dates can download from the government website his personal details as a war veteran and a certificate of his War Service. The detailed statistical findings in those 3 reports are based on that consistent, binding Federal legislation:
In relation to the results published in this report, as they did in the Mortality and Cancer Incidence reports, support our earlier suspicions that our veterans were apparently dying too early in unusually large numbers and that they were suffering alarmingly high rates of ill health. The two committees are to be complimented on the detailed results published. They reveal that veterans of the Korean War have what appear to be dramatic increases in mortality, cancer incidence and poor health in each of the only 15 illnesses and diseases studied (their “a priori” list) as compared to a cohort of average Australian males. The results strongly vindicate the reasons for the request we made.
This latest Health Study Report found that 50 years after that war only 40% (7,500) of the 17,900 who served were still alive in 2003 and that compared to other men of the same age:
The study has demonstrated that long-term effects of war service can be severe and can still present 50 years after the end of hostilities (19 April 1956). The report stated that even those statistically dramatic figures already highlighted in this and the two earlier reports had probably been underestimated.
That Health Study report stated - “it was unable to study chemical risk factors.” This was because it did not attempt to do so. On page 136 it states – “As this Health Study was conducted so long after the Korean War and as the questionnaire needed to be sufficiently short so as to be easily completed . . . it did not attempt to retrospectively collect information on veterans’ exposures to environmental or chemical risk factors in Korea.” - It could easily have done so. It was provided with (1) a wealth of relevant information, (2) a one page list of symptoms and (3) a two page list of illnesses and diseases that could result, whereas the questionnaire devoted a surprising 6 pages to PTSD/psychological factors, one page to alcohol (discounted) and one page to smoking (discounted) whereas the effects of toxic chemicals - one of the major 3 matters to be studied - was left out completely. It should have done so particularly as the Minister had specially selected the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and its members as - "world-recognized experts in a range of subjects relevant to the study,” - and he had further stated - "The SAC will be the final arbiter of scientific matters in the conduct of the study” - thus they should have addressed these matters. He chose such eminent experts so that they could make determinations without reference to the RMA. Thus they could readily have done so for all other resultant illnesses and diseases including MCS but deliberately avoided doing so. Those vital issues were also wrongly avoided in the Mortality study for only a few, unjustified reasons. One implausible reason put forward by the Chairman to justify their failure to address the effects of exposures to toxic chemicals was (1) the subject matter was - “beyond the competence and understanding of all their members,” and (2) - "As to MCS, the Committee felt that it was neither within the terms of the Mortality Study (he later admitted in writing that there were no Terms of Reference), nor within the powers of the Committee (see above), nor within the competence of the individual members of the Committee, (see above) to decide whether MCS exists as a condition. Therefore, the Committee concluded that it would not be appropriate for it to debate the issue.”
In doing so they apparently fell back on the now world-wide, highly denigrated, prochemical, International Programme of Chemical Safety (IPCS) conference held in secret in Berlin in 1996 attended only be chemical representatives with the deliberate aim of wrongly giving a name change from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity to what Dr Grace Ziem,MD called an idiomoronic term - Iatrogenic Environmental Illness (IEI) - to indicate that it is not a clinical illness but is of a psychogenic or psychiatric origin - a decision which, while applauded by psychiatrists and chemical, agricultural and petroleum companies, has been condemned by the IPCS itself, by the WHO, the ILO, the UNEP, by 80 concerned eminent scientists, doctors and researchers, and by 2/3rds of all the peer reviewed publications on this subject since 1995. Yet astonishingly, 11 years later, it is still wrongly used by our government, our Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA), our Department of Health, our Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), and others, and directly or indirectly by each of the various Veteran Mortality and Health Study Committees (including those for the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars) for wrongly denying all such claims and evidence. That argument was the basis for the determination in 2001 by the RMA that MCS does not exist as a disease and their unsubstantiated statement that all illnesses and diseases which result from exposures to toxic chemicals are already adequately covered in their Statements of Principles - see a criticism of that determination by MCS Referral & Resources in the USA sent to the President of the Australian Chemical Trauma Association (ACTA) included in part in:
Like the negative attitude of their government in the recent Independent British Gulf Veterans Inquiry into all the Illnesses of their veterans and the attitude of our government in our Korean, Vietnam and Gulf studies, they apparently relied heavily on evidence from psychiatrists to argue that all ill health, illnesses and diseases of veterans have a psychiatric, not a physical or clinical cause and can be sheeted home to Post Traumatic Disease. A study of our Vietnam veteran’s book – “The Battle After The War, The Story of Australia’s Vietnam Veterans” - by Ambrose Crowe in which he states that in order to avoid accepting all illnesses and diseases from exposures to toxic chemicals the government decided to accept them instead as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) supports this. A professor at Monash University assisted Ambrose in his research. This astonishing attitude now also appears prevalent overseas. It is a point of view loudly trumpeted by the psychiatric profession for obvious reasons, despite an increasingly, wide perception that psychiatric theories have not yet been proven scientifically.
It is disturbing to note that the British tactics used to defeat the justified claims of their Gulf War Veterans relied heavily on the evidence of one of their government’s star witnesses - Professor Simon Wessely (IoP), a psychiatrist and surprisingly Director of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research - a joint initiative of the Institute of Psychiatry and the Dept of War Studies at King’s College London (note the apparent over emphasis on psychiatry in warfare studies – similar to that in our Korea War Veterans Health Study & Questionnaire) – which claims to examine the cause of mental health and diseases of the brain for war veterans (not clinical or physical illnesses from the effects of toxic chemicals). On the basis of his evidence before the Independent Inquiry into Gulf Veterans Illnesses and elsewhere, including the contents of his many research papers, you might conclude that his thoughts appear to be overly concerned with matters psychiatric rather than clinical illnesses and diseases from toxic chemical exposures. It appears that Professor Wessely and his fellow psychiatrists believe that all illnesses and diseases of war veterans are not caused by chemical toxins but from mental trauma and PTSD. They support this by quoting the now highly denigrated IPCS 1996 Berlin conference attended only by chemical companies. He is now finalizing his own pioneering study into the army’s psychiatric state.
It is noteworthy that while one of the three main areas to be examined in those three Korean War veterans published studies, namely - all the illnesses, diseases and deaths which result from both small and large exposures to toxic chemicals (more than 160 of which were included in the research papers prepared at the request of the Chairman) the questionnaires on which the results of the Health Study 2005 were based contained none of the symptoms of such exposures, none of the illnesses and diseases which result from such exposures and contained no questions as to veterans’ exposures to those toxic chemicals. The report stated - “it was unable to study chemical risk factors.” This was because it did not attempt to do so.
This despite the facts that:
1. One of the 3 vital areas to be examined in the 3 studies was the illnesses, diseases and deaths that can and do result from such exposures.
2. Korean War veterans were the first Australian troops to ever be exposed to such a wide range of toxic chemicals following commencement of the disastrous Chemical Plague without any essential precautions in accordance with written instructions.
3. Such a study of those effects was historically important.
4. The committees were provided with a list on only one page of the widely accepted symptoms resulting from such exposures, and on only two pages many of the accepted illnesses and diseases which result from such exposures only requiring a cross or tick against each item on each page. Whereas the questionnaire and reference material were heavily weighted/over weighted for psychological/PTSD - 6 pages, smoking - 1 page (discounted), alcohol - 1 page (discounted) and veterans were asked about only 15 medical conditions of the many illnesses and diseases vital to all previous and future campaigns which ignored.
5. The committees were provided with more than adequate information to undertake meaningful statistical calculations of both small and large exposures to toxic chemicals including a list of at least 160 toxic chemicals to which the veterans were apparently regularly exposed, many simultaneously, many since banned, including exposures in small, enclosed, underground bunkers, and exposures in other places.
Despite the attempts in the report and the proceedings of the Committees to ignore the effects of widespread regular exposures to a wide range of toxic/neurotoxic chemicals for reasons which are incorrect as addressed in our research papers and elsewhere, based on much recent peer-reviewed papers and books, it seems obvious that the common denominator behind these alarmingly high rates of death based only on what is stated as the cause of death in the Certificate of Death, rather than the true cause of death, is due to wide, regular exposures to a diverse range of often simultaneous exposures to toxic/neurotoxic chemicals, most untested, without any precautions whatever, many since banned world-wide, with no testing whatever of the increased synergistic effects of simultaneous exposures.
The Stockholm Convention Outlawing Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
The Stockholm Convention aims to protect human health and the environment from the effects of POPs with a range of control measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate POPs releases, including emissions of by-product POPs.
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants came into force on 17 May 2004 with Australia ratifying it on 20 May 2004. It aims to ensure the sound management of stockpiles and wastes that contain persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs are hazardous and environmentally persistent substances that can be transported between countries by the earth’s oceans and the atmosphere. The substances bioaccumulate and have been traced in the fatty tissues of humans and other animals. There is general international agreement that they require global action to reduce their impact on humans and the environment.
Of the 12 most toxic chemicals outlawed in May 2004 at least 8 were apparently widely, regularly used in at least the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gullf War - including DDT, Aldrin, Chlordane, Dieldrin, Heptachlor, Hexachlorobenzene (HCB), Polychlorinated byphenyls (PCB’s) and dioxins. The convention recognises that there are also other chemicals that pose similar hazardous threats to human health and the environment, therefore other chemicals, including those used in the Korean War, may be added in the future:
It would appear that one, if not the main, cause of the alarmingly high rates of physical and psychological stress and trauma from all these illnesses and diseases would have been facilitated by regular exposures, many simultaneously, both small and large, to so many toxic chemicals. These figures provide at least indirect support to the reality of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or Chemical Injury or Chemically Induced Illnesses or Diseases as a clinical disease not of psychological or psychogenic origin.
There appears to be no recommendations concerning whether veterans of that war and their, wives, widows and children have been adequately compensated with proper treatment for their disabilities or with adequate disability pensions which was the reason why the studies were requested and veterans and their families will therefore fail to achieve their well earned, justified entitlements.
After 12 years it appears there is little more I can do. If you agree with the contents it is now up to you to take action. As a start you could email or post to anyone who might be interested and ask them to also take action.
That is how the families of American veterans of Gulf War 1, enraged by the unfounded, deliberate denial mode of Congress, doctors, scientists, politicians, psychiatrists and departmental bureaucrats achieved success with the passage of beneficial bills. Canadian veterans of the Korean and Bosnian wars and their families are attempting to do likewise and, together with families of so many Canadian civilians debilitated from such exposures they have already tabled bills. British and Americans are also attempting to do so.
Yours very sincerely,
p.s. If you agree with the contents which concern all veterans of all wars since 1945 and their families and all civilians & families debilitated from exposures to toxic chemicals it is now up to you to do something about it.
Without something like that nobody does anything positive.
Go to top
Return to latest from Colonel Limburg
Return to Front Page
Return to Contents file
Return to OPs file
Return to latest from Colonel Limburg Return to Front Page Return to Contents file Return to OPs file