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Environmental Exposures

Photo of service member in uniform with gas mask on for training

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) play distinct roles in dealing with chemical and biological (CB) exposures and are responsible for developing DOD deployment occupational and environmental health surveillance, risk assessment and risk management policies. DOD identifies and validates veteran’s exposure to CB agents and monitors deployment-related exposure incidents and trends. This ensures effective programs are in place to prevent occupational and environmental injuries or illnesses during deployment.

The Public Health Division collaborates with their DOD partners and the VA on long-term medical care and benefits for our service members. The division also provides the names of these individuals along with their exposure information to the VA. The VA then notifies individuals of their potential exposure, provides treatment, if necessary, for these individuals and adjudicates any claim for compensation.

These combined efforts are shaping the future of military medicine by supporting enhanced individual exposure assessment methods.  The Public Health Division partners with federal research institutes on many projects to include:

  • Development of exposure biomarkers
  • Individual chemical dosimeters 
  • Individual Longitudinal Exposure Records

This page is designed to provide Service members, veterans, their families and the public with information on what happened during CB testing conducted years ago that potentially affected the health of those who served. It provides information on the tests conducted by DOD that possibly resulted in CB exposures only. For privacy reasons, it does not contain the names of the veterans exposed.

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Human Subject Research at Fort Detrick


The U.S. Army established its offensive Biological Warfare program at Fort Detrick in 1943. The purpose of the program was twofold: develop defensive mechanisms against biological attack and develop weapons with which the United States could respond “in kind” if attacked by an enemy who used biological weapons.

Edgewood Arsenal Chemical Agent Exposure Studies


Edgewood Arsenal has been the center of chemical warfare research and development since 1918. Therefore, it is not surprising that Edgewood Arsenal became the research hub for chemical agent testing on human subjects from 1955 through 1975. The great majority of the use of volunteers in medical (chemical) research occurred at this installation.

Field Testing of Hallucinogenic Agents


Hallucinogenic agents (principally LSD) were tested on human subjects primarily at Edgewood Arsenal. The aim of this experimentation was to determine the effects of these chemicals on the nervous systems and mental functions of individuals and to evaluate preventive and therapeutic (treatment) agents to combat these effects.

Mustard Disaster at Bari


Bari lies along the Adriatic Sea at the top of the heel of the boot of Italy (See Figure 1). During World War II, the port of Bari was under the jurisdiction of the British and was the main supply base for General Montgomery’s Eighth Army as well as the headquarters for the American Fifteenth Air Force which was activated in November 1943.

Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine Assessment of Sodium Dichromate Exposure


Defense Health Board (DHB) conducted an external review of a U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (USACHPPM) occupational and environmental health assessment conducted in 2003 at the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant (WTP) in Basra, Iraq to address a potential sodium dichromate exposure to United States military service members.

Health Risk Assessment Burn Pit Exposures Balad Air Base Iraq


Defense Health Board: Health Risk Assessment Burn Pit Exposures Balad Air Base Iraq

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Last Updated: August 01, 2022
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