Letter/Issue 5 of 6

 

Draft

 

09-08-08    

 

TO:     The Members of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee                  

 

FROM:  The Veterans, Widows of Veterans and their Offspring of this great Nation

 

SUBJECT:  Herbicide degenerating neurological disorders, as well as degenerating spinal issues denied by Veterans Affairs

 

Dear Members of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee,

 

On May 23, 1991, the Veterans' Advisory Committee on Environmental Hazards (VACEH) considered the relationship between exposure to dioxin and the development of this condition.  The Committee concluded and recommended to Veterans Affairs that there is a "significant statistical association" between “peripheral neuropathy” and exposure to dioxins.  Veterans Affairs Secretary Derwinski somewhat agreed but then put a one year gate on any manifestation of peripheral neuropathy and a two year gate on presumptive resolution which of course was noting but an insult to those veterans developing such disorders in the 1970s’ to present.  In other words a Veterans Affairs political decision, not science, was made not to support this degenerating neurological condition associated with much pain for the Veteran.

 

In 1991 under the 101st Congress the United States commission the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) a study to prepare and assessment of manmade toxic chemicals being induced in our population.  These findings have been contradicted by not only Veterans Affairs but also the Institute of Medicine when it comes to applying those findings to the Herbicide Veterans and our Widow of this nation.  As time progresses or old age approaches, the rate of natural neuronal cell death accelerates, and the results of earlier neurological toxic chemical exposures and damaged may first become evident, or unmasked (OTA). The availability of alternate neuronal pathways is reduced, which were formerly responsible for compensating for earlier toxic damage.

 

The OTA cited evidence that toxic chemicals might even be the sole causative agents in some cases of Parkinson's disease, since onset in certain families was at similar ages, and since Parkinson's disease has increased significantly from 1962 to 1984 along with exposures to these toxic chemicals. The OTA also cited evidence that the substantial increase in the incidence of motor neuron disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) between 1962 and 1984 was due to environmental exposures to neurotoxic chemicals.

 

It is therefore scientifically probable that Vietnam veterans due to earlier aggravating Agent Orange exposure will experience a higher incidence than normal of peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s Alzheimer's (ALS), motor neuron diseases, and cognitive deficient properties.   In fact that is exactly what has happened in Department of Defense created national tragedy use of Rainbow Herbicides.

 

The Secretary of Veterans' Affairs, therefore, should not and scientifically flawed at every level to place any limitations or exclusions on compensation for peripheral neuropathy or any other degenerating disorders, and following the congressional mandate of providing the benefit of the doubt to the Herbicide Veteran.  In fact, because the Secretary of the VA and this federal agency experts do not know how these particular disorders manifest from direct exposures and therefore have no direct scientific evidence that any disorder will occur within a certain time limit nor will it resolve within a certain time frame.

 

The OTA also cited evidence that the substantial increase in the incidence of motor neuron disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) between 1962 and 1984 was due to environmental exposures to neurotoxic chemicals.  We would ask the membership of both Veterans Affairs Committees how does that not apply to Herbicide Veterans?

 

CNS damage by fat soluble (lipophilic) neurotoxicants such as dioxin has always been found to accompany, and usually precede, any peripheral nervous system (PNS) damage such as peripheral neuropathy. The prestigious International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded as early as 1977 that human CNS damage was associated with dioxin exposures (IARC, 1977a, 1977b). In 1986 the IARC clearly restated it’s finding that dioxin was associated with peripheral neuropathies and personality changes, a neuropsychological consequence of CNS damage (IARC, 1986). Since the IARC evaluations, many new epidemiological investigations have established an even stronger casual relationship between dioxin and CNS damage, including the Air Force investigations of veterans of Operation Ranch Hand.  (1)

 

Because the available evidence for CNS damage by dioxin outweighs that for peripheral nervous system (PNS) among Vietnam veterans, and because of the inseparable relationship between the biological mechanism by with dioxin exerts both CNS and PNS effects, the actions by the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs is indefensible and more political than scientific.


IARC noted that PNS damage was also found in the same 6 dioxin- exposed populations, including polyneuropathies, lower extremity weakness, and sensorial impairments (sight, hearing, smell, taste). In 1986, the IARC clearly restated it’s finding that dioxin had been found to be associated with peripheral neuropathies and CNS effected personality changes (IARC, 1986).

 
There are also numerous epidemiological investigations to support the casual relationship between dioxin and CNS effects.  CNS effects observed in dioxin-exposed populations include depression, anxiety, suicide, decreased cognitive function, fatigue, and poor coordination.


Neurotoxicants may also damage or alter the neurotransmitter system, damage the glial cells, which support the primary neurons, or damage the blood vessels supplying the nervous system. The OTA found that degeneration of the axon (axonopathy) is one of the most frequently determined neurological effects from neurotoxic chemicals (OTA, 1990).

 

Damaging the glial cells, which are referred to as the glue of the neurological neurotransmitter system itself with about 50,000 times more cells than the neuron cells themselves; can certainly attribute to PN, Parkinson’s, Motor Neuron, and ALS.

 
CNS effects other than neuropsychological deficits were also found among Ranch Hand veterans (Thomas, et al., 1990). When Ranch Hand veterans or controls that had known past exposures to insecticides were excluded from one analysis (so that neurological findings could be attributed solely to Agent Orange), Ranch Hand veterans exhibited significantly elevated relative risk for cranial nerve dysfunction. Analyses disclosed marginally more balance/Romberg sign (standing without swaying when eyes closed and feet together) and coordination abnormalities for Ranch Hand veterans. Another follow-up report released in March 1991 correlated the physical health findings from the 1990 Ranch Hand study with serum dioxin levels (Roegner, et al., 1991). Current blood levels of dioxin were found to be significant associated with poor coordination and deficits in a CNS function test.

 

CNS effects that mimic PTSD - The OTA found that neurotoxic chemicals can cause or exacerbate anxiety,
depression, mania, and psychosis.

 

On May 23, 1991, the Veterans' Advisory Committee on Environmental Hazards (VACEH) considered the relationship between exposure to dioxin and the development of this condition.  The Committee concluded and recommend to Veterans Affairs that there is a "significant statistical association" between “peripheral neuropathy” and exposure to dioxins. 

 

Picloram is a conveniently Dow proprietary chemical formula that contained not only nitrosamines but also a form of benzene toxic chemical known as hexachlorobenzene.  Which would almost guarantee this formula would have other dioxins and dioxin like isomers.

 

For example:

 

Any of the hexachlorodibenzofuran isomers

Any of the hexachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin isomers

Any of the tetrachlorodibenzofuran isomers

Any of the tetrachlorodibenzofuran –p-dioxin

Any of the pentachlorodibenzofuran isomers

Any of the pentachlorodibenzo – p-dioxin isomers 

 

From Agent Blue for Chronic exposure we have from our own EPA. (2) 

In addition, Dapsone is noted for causing peripheral neuropathy and hematological disorders directly as in a direct antigenic response to the chemicals in Dapsone (a leprosy treatment medication).  This is especially true in hematological issues, which is the most common adverse effect and is seen in patients with or without G6PD deficiency.  {Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is an enzyme deficiency of the red blood cells.  G6PD deficiency leads to an abnormal rupture (breakage) of the red blood cells called hemolytic anemia (abnormally low red blood cell count)}.  (3)

 

In addition to the warnings and adverse effects reported above, additional adverse reactions include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, pancreatitis, vertigo, blurred vision, tinnitus, insomnia, fever, headache, psychosis, photo toxicity, pulmonary eosinophilia, tachycardia, albuminuria, the nephrotic syndrome, hypoalbuminemia without proteinuria, renal papillary necrosis, male infertility, drug-induced Lupus erythematosus, and an infectious mononucleosis-like syndrome.  In general, with the exception of the complications of severe anoxia from over dosage (retinal and optic nerve damage, etc.) these adverse reactions have regressed off drug.

 

We have no idea what this drug did to us while being exposed to the Rainbow of Herbicides.  A temporary condition taken with dioxin and what it does certainly could have produced a life long effect instead of a temporary effect.

 

Gold Standard Government Study Ranch Hand 

 

 

 

Other studies of Vietnam Veterans

 

 

Seveso, Italy

 

 

In a dioxin like train spill, 49 Monsanto workers were sent in to clean up the spill.  Within 12 years, 45 of the workers had peripheral neuropathy and two workers had committed suicide.  It is unknown what happen to the other two workers. (10)

 

Recently the Mayo Clinic and Iowa Agriculture Health Studies confirm that Agent Orange Herbicides are scientifically associated with Parkinson’s disease.  Stanford University concluded in a study that service members who were exposed are 2.6 times more at risk for Parkinson’s.  Fifty other studies support and also show the links between Parkinson disease and the Herbicide Chemicals.

 

These Veterans should be ‘Military Service Connected’ immediately and all the benefits and services this nation should be awarded immediately to these Veteran Victims and their widows.

 

It is imperative that our Committee members get to the bottom of these Veterans Affairs denials.

 

On July 15, 2008, it was reported in the National Media that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would grant a service-connected disability, the highest category of disability, to all veterans with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative disease that affects veterans at a rate 1.6 times the general population.  The new designation was to take effect in August.  Yet, these Veterans, Widows, and their family members still wait for the final announcement if there is going to be one.  Or was this just another Veterans Affairs media propaganda spin?

 

Again, it is imperative that our Veterans Affairs Committee members get to the bottom of this issue and report the truth to our Veterans not just Veterans Affairs propaganda on behalf of our Executive Branch.

 

One issue that has been totally ignored even though our EPA has concluded the “brain may be particularly vulnerable” to accumulating dioxin into its fat content is the spinal chord tissues and medical issues.  Nervous system tissue itself, with its high lipid content, can also act as a repository for dioxin. 

 

The 2003 Korean study, a model of integrity, found between Vietnam and Non-Vietnam veterans the following: (7)

 

1        Spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis) = 0.1311 with zero Non-Vietnam veterans being diagnosed.

 

2        Radiculopathy – (Mass lesions - benign or malignant - especially in patients with narrow canals, may compress both the root and spinal cord, adding a myelopathy to a root syndrome.) = 0.0002

 

3        Radiculopathy with HIVD (HIVD = herniated intervertebral disc) = 0.0001

 

4        Herniation of nucleus pulposus = 0.0028

 

Spondylosis = 0.1311 (Degeneration of the spine and neck bones) (None found in the comparison group).

Myelopathy = 0.0851 Myelopathy (The process that leads to compression of the spinal cord, also called arthritis and cervical spondylosis).  (Cervical, thoracic, and/or lumbar regions of the spine affecting the intervertebral discs and facet joints).

 

Peripheral Vasculopathy = 0.0628 (Includes Burger’s disease, Raynauds syndrome, and other vasculopathy).

 

Retinopathy with hypertension = 0.0978 (None found in the comparison group).

 

Parkinson’s disease = 0.1830  (None found in the comparison group).

 

While this p-value difference factor is too large in some cases to meet the scientific level of  0.05 but should qualify for inclusion into 38 C.F.R 1.17 paragraph (4) (e) and/or (d).  Especially since we are looking at degenerative disorders with a snap shot in time of those disorders.

 

The other science issue that must be pointed out, is this study found an increased Odds Ratio to Radiculopathy of (OR= 3.98 (CI 2.19 – 7.26 for heavens sakes.  Including a direct correlation to dioxin found at <0.001

 

I found it interesting that when the Korean scientists and doctors compared a certain disease to what would normally be associated to a diabetes condition such as neuropathy.  The p factor for neuropathy with diabetes was 0.2157 = a 78% positive association.  Not even close to being significant.  Yet, when compared separately both met the 0.05 values.  To me, this would indicate these disorders are developing separately as is indicated in empirical data.

 

Also in a second study the Korean study clearly stated that after two studies the most prevalent disorder associated to Agent Orange was indeed Peripheral Nerve disease. (8) Still denied by Veterans Affairs.

 

If you have further questions or require testimony please contact me.

 

Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles Kelley

2078 Eastwood Drive

Snellville, GA 30078

Vietnam Veteran 67-68

DMZ

 

From all of the Herbicide Veterans of this Nation

 

References available on accompanying CD

 

(1) Letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Edward Derwinski, dated February 19, 1992 from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

 

(2) Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisoning, 5th edition, U.S. EPA, Chapter 14.

 

(3) Side Effect Warnings on Dapsone.

 

(4) October 14-15, 1999 Ranch Hand Advisory Committee Meeting, transcripts.

 

(5) October 19-20, 2000 Ranch Hand Advisory Committee Meeting, transcripts from day one.

 

(6) Serum dioxin and peripheral neuropathy in veterans of Operation Ranch Hand, 2001 Aug 22 (4): 479-90, Pub Med A Service of The National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health.

 

(7) Impact of Agent Orange Exposure among Korean Vietnam Veterans – Industrial Health 2003, 41, 149-157.

 

(8) Immunotoxicological Effects of Agent Orange Exposure to the Vietnam War Korean Veterans – Industrial Health 2003, 41, 158-166

 

(9)  Short and Long Term Morbidity and Mortality in the Population Exposed to Dioxin after the Seveso Accident – Industrial Health 2003, 41, 127-138

 

(10) Lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Ivy versus Shamrock Chemicals Company, Affidavit of Cate Jenkins, PH.D.  {“The evidence from the 1990 Ranch Hand study (Thomas, et al., 1990) is particularly compelling in demonstrating CNS damage from Agent Orange exposure.