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Gulf War Deployments

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Environmental Exposures

Insecticides commonly used in the Gulf included d-phenothrin, chlorpyrifos, resmethrin, malathion, methomyl, and lindane. DEET and permethrin (a pyrethroid), are technically repellents rather than insecticides and are included here as a related item of concern. Insecticides may cause acute symptoms of headache, diarrhea, dizziness, blurred vision, weakness, nausea, cramps, chest tightening, nervousness, sweating, pinpoint pupils, tearing, salivation, pulmonary edema, muscle twitching, convulsions, coma, loss of reflexes and sphincter control. Nausea, incoordination, and eye and skin irritation may follow acute permethrin exposure. Long-term use of DEET may cause skin irritation.

Clinical significance: Although there were no US personnel during the Gulf War who required treatment for acute pesticide poisoning and currently available data do not indicate reason to suspect pesticides as a cause of Gulf War related illness, the Department of Defense will continue to monitor veterans for evidence that pesticide exposure is associated with illness. While there continues to be questions, concerns and research in this area, the clinical impact of these compounds is isolated to acute effects of direct exposures. Lingering ailments due to past exposures remains plausible, however chronic effects are unlikely and are currently unproven.

The following reference on the world-wide-web provides additional information on pesticides and the Gulf War: Institute of Medicine, Gulf War and Health Volume II: Insecticides and Solvents, 2003.

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