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J Occup Environ Med. 2017 Jan;59(1):54-60. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000922.

The Association Between Toxic Exposures and Chronic Multisymptom Illness in Veterans of the Wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Author information

Department of Veterans Affairs, VISN 17 Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, Waco (Drs DeBeer, Davidson, Meyer); Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (Drs DeBeer, Davidson, Meyer, Gulliver); Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dr Kimbrel); VA Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Durham, North Carolina (Dr Kimbrel); Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina (Dr Kimbrel); Warriors Research Institute, Baylor, Scott & White Healthcare System, Waco (Dr Gulliver); and The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas (Dr Morissette).



The purpose of this study was to determine if post-9/11 veterans deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts experienced toxic exposures and whether they are related to symptoms of chronic multisymptom illness (CMI).


Data from 224 post-9/11 veterans who self-reported exposure to hazards in theater were analyzed using hierarchical regression.


Of the sample, 97.2% endorsed experiencing one or more potentially toxic exposure. In a regression model, toxic exposures and CMI symptoms were significantly associated above and beyond covariates. Follow-up analyses revealed that pesticide exposures, but not smoke inhalation was associated with CMI symptoms.


These findings suggest that toxic exposures were common among military personnel deployed to the most recent conflicts, and appear to be associated with CMI symptoms. Additional research on the impact of toxic exposures on returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans' health is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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