Low-level exposure to sarin nerve gas could have caused brain damage in former service members, according to scientists working with the DoD. More than 100,000 US troops were exposed to that toxin in 1991, during the Persian Gulf War. Snip from NYT article:
Roberta F. White of Boston University led the study of sarin nerve gas, which used new scanning technology. Though the results are preliminary, the study is notable for being financed by the federal government and for being the first to make use of a detailed analysis of sarin exposure performed by the Pentagon, based on wind patterns and plume size.
The report, to be published in the June issue of the journal NeuroToxicology, found apparent changes in the brain's connective tissue – its so-called white matter – in soldiers exposed to the gas. The extent of the brain changes – less white matter and slightly larger brain cavities – corresponded to the extent of exposure, the study found.
Previous studies had suggested that exposure affected the brain in some neural regions, but the evidence was not convincing to many scientists. The new report is likely to revive the long-debated question of why so many troops returned from that war with unexplained physical problems.
Reader comment: Patrick Snajder says,
You noted in the link to the NeuroToxicology that the site navigation, from publisher Elsevier, is abominable. You are probably aware, but Elsevier is currently being boycotted by some scientists for its involvement in arms trade shows: Link, and current news here.] The fact that Elsevier was involved was, ironically or not, rooted out by another Elsevier journal, The Lancet: Link.