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Scientists say Pentagon misleads on dust risk to troops

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Airborne dustThe Pentagon is falsely claiming its research shows that airborne dust in Iraq and Afghanistan poses no health risk to U.S. troops, say three scientists whose review of that research found it riddled with mistakes.

Military officials then falsely said the review of their research backed their conclusion that the dust in the two war zones is no different from that in California, scientists Philip Hopke, Mark Utell and Anthony Wexler say.

The scientists, who issued their report last year for the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences, were part of a team that reviewed a 2008 study at the request of the Pentagon.

The earlier report, which was conducted for the military by the Nevada-based Desert Research Institute, made a series of incorrect conclusions and used faulty research methods, the 2010 study showed.

Researcher links toxins in war-zone dust to ailments

It is simply not true that research supports the Pentagon's claim that Middle Eastern dust is similar to that in the United States or that it poses no health risks, says Hopke, a Clarkson University scientist who conducted the National Research Council study.

"It's a bit disappointing when they know that, realistically, the data does not support that conclusion," he says.


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