Defense Health Care:

Efforts to Address Health Effects of the Kuwait Oil Well Fires

HRD-92-50: Published: Jan 9, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to safeguard the health of U.S. troops from the smoke, soot, and other residue of the Kuwait oil well fires set during the Persian Gulf War.

GAO found that: (1) shortly after Iraqi forces set the oil well fires, DOD provided troops with guidance to help minimize exposure to oil fire pollutants, performed limited air monitoring, and interacted with the other organizations and countries involved in making the early assessments of fire effects; (2) the U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency (USAEHA) is collecting extensive air and soil samples to determine whether harmful pollutants were present in areas where U.S. troops were located, and conducting a biological surveillance study of 3,700 soldiers to identify any biological changes resulting from exposure to toxins; (3) USAEHA will use data from those projects to perform a health risk analysis to project the incidence of illnesses attributable to oil fire smoke exposure; and (4) DOD plans to determine, document, and permanently retain information on troop exposure to fumes include developing a database of all service members who served in the Persian Gulf with the dates they served, preserving all data related to its health risk assessment, and retaining daily weather and troop movement data.

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