DENVER, May 18 (UPI) -- Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are at risk of a new disease researchers say they have named Iraq-Afghanistan War lung injury.
Dr. Anthony Szema of Stony Brook University Medical Center and Dr. Cecile S. Rose of National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado in Denver are leading a session at the American Thoracic Society in Denver that describes the ailment among soldiers deployed to these countries in the Middle East and Asia.
"Not only do soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan suffer serious respiratory problems at a rate seven times that of soldiers deployed elsewhere, but the respiratory issues they present with show a unique pattern of fixed obstruction in half of cases, while most of the rest are clinically reversible new-onset asthma, in addition to the rare interstitial lung disease called non-specific interstitial pneumonitis associated with inhalation of titanium and iron," the researchers say.
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans face numerous respiratory threats including: dust from the sand; smoke from burn pits; aerosolized metals and chemicals from bombs; blast overpressure or shock waves to the lung; outdoor aeroallergens such as date pollen, indoor aeroallergens such as mold aspergillus, vehicle exhaust and tobacco smoke, Rose says.
Making it harder for researchers is that "there is a lack of pre-deployment lung function data, making it impossible to determine the extent of the damage that these exposures can cause, Rose says.