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Respiratory Health Status of US Army Personnel Potentially Exposed to Smoke From 2003 Al-Mishraq Sulfur Plant Fire

Baird, Coleen P. MD, MPH; DeBakey, Samar MD, MPH; Reid, Lawrence MPH; Hauschild, Veronique D. MPH; Petruccelli, Bruno MD, MPH; Abraham, Joseph H. ScD

Section Editor(s): Teichman, Ron MD, MPH; Guest Editor

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 6 - p 717–723
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182572e37

Objective: To assess the impact of exposure to a 2003 sulfur plant fire on the health of deployed US Army personnel.

Methods: The authors identified a small firefighter group known to be at the fire source and a larger, more dispersed population. Self-reported health status and respiratory health outcomes for these two groups were reviewed compared with two unexposed groups.

Results: Self-reported health concerns, difficulty breathing, and shortness of breath were common in the exposed. Rates for chronic respiratory conditions increased in all groups from before to after deployment. Postdeployment medical encounters for chronic respiratory conditions among the exposed did not differ significantly from the unexposed comparison groups.

Conclusion: Potential exposure to the sulfur fire was positively associated with self-reported health concerns and symptoms but not with clinical encounters for chronic respiratory health conditions.

From the US Army Public Health Command (Drs Baird, Petruccelli, and Abraham, and Ms Hauschild), Aberdeen Proving Ground; and Health Research and Analysis (Dr DeBakey and Mr Reid), Rockville, Md.

Address correspondence to: Coleen B. Baird, MD, MPH, Environmental Medicine Program, US Army Public Health Command, 5158 Black Hawk Rd, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21010 mail to:

This work was supported by the US Department of Defense.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine