Dealing with uncertainty II: towards a precautionary framework for military-origin contaminants

Dealing with uncertainty II: towards a precautionary framework for military-origin contaminants

The previous blog in this two-part series highlighted fears and uncertainties regarding the long-term health impact from military-origin chemical contamination. Some analogies were discussed from the history of industrial chemicals regulation, for example the case of benzene. While the comparison between industrial chemicals and military-origin contaminants is not a complete one, as will be outlined below, it is still of use. The important question of the nature of the action required in the face of uncertainty was not answered; this will be the subject of this second blog. As noted […]

Screening of new military materials for toxicity and environmental harm

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Blog, Health, Munitions, Policy | No Comments
Screening of new military materials for toxicity and environmental harm

Many substances that are currently used for either civilian or military purposes have been proven to have adverse environmental impacts, or present unacceptable risks to human health. As a result the screening of substances prior to their production and use is now recognised as an important means of protecting environmental and public health. To screen a substance means to subject it to study in a way that measures its potential environmental and health impacts, based on knowledge of chemical structure in the first instance, followed by computational modelling, laboratory and […]

Harm prevention lessons from peacetime norms and standards

Harm prevention lessons from peacetime norms and standards

Industry and development are synonymous with potentially harmful chemicals, waste products and processes. Human or mechanical errors, or technical failures, can result in industrial accidents, which can threaten environmental and public health. Many of the substances involved in industrial processes and accidents are common to military activities and are therefore of relevance when assessing post-conflict environmental contamination. The legislation and conventions in place to prevent industrial harm to the environment, alongside the response and procedures in place to treat contamination are, at present, very different to those relevant to military […]

Toxic remnants of war and chemical warfare agents: Syria

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Blog, Health, News, Policy, Protection of civilians, Syria | No Comments
Toxic remnants of war and chemical warfare agents: Syria

The death and injury of hundreds of people in a rebel-controlled area of eastern Damascus on August 21st  2013 bears all the hallmarks of chemical warfare agent (CWA) use according to experts in that field. The resultant cruel loss of life is potentially a serious escalation of the conflict. The Toxic Remnants of War Project receives periodic queries on whether our work encompasses the use, demilitarisation or environmental remediation of CWAs. In short, and contrary to what the name may suggest, the TRW Project does not deal with these horrific […]

Dealing with uncertainty I: lessons from chemicals regulation

Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 in Blog, Health, Legal, Policy, Protection of civilians, UNEP | No Comments
Dealing with uncertainty I: lessons from chemicals regulation

Effectively managing uncertainty is a persistent challenge for decision-making at the interface of science and politics, particularly where human or environmental health is at stake. Scientific uncertainty surrounding exposure, dose and harm from toxic substances has long proved to be a fertile ground for dispute, which has pitched polluters against regulators and politicians against the public. It is perhaps unsurprising then that issues surrounding recent conflicts and the suspected association between toxic substances and public health problems have been a cause of great controversy. The observed trend of rising birth […]

Toxic Remnants of War: Viet Nam to the present day

Toxic Remnants of War: Viet Nam to the present day

The TRW Project aims to assess, through scientific desk studies, the potential of common military toxic substances (for example explosives or heavy metals) to cause public health and environmental problems. The remediation of dioxin contamination from defoliant spraying during the Viet Nam War has only recently received funding for a few sites and health assistance to affected Vietnamese is still not universally agreed. Therefore, the problem of dioxin remains a relevant example of military-origin contamination. In this post, the origins of the dioxin problem are briefly examined, as is a […]

TRW – Discussion paper – Toxic Harm: Humanitarian and Environmental Concerns From Military Origin Contamination by Dr Mohamed Ghalaieny

TRW – Discussion paper – Toxic  Harm: Humanitarian and Environmental Concerns From Military Origin Contamination by Dr Mohamed Ghalaieny

This paper is the outcome of research done by the TRW Project into the scope of the problem from military-origin contamination. The paper overviews current health and environmental problems resulting from conflict and military activities before presenting limitations on the study of such problems and discussing existing legal and practical measures for environmental protection. The work also presents a methodology developed to study military-origin contamination in the appendix, this includes examples of problematic substances.

New TRW Publication – Toxic Harm: humanitarian and environmental concerns from military-origin contamination

New TRW Publication – Toxic Harm: humanitarian and environmental concerns from military-origin contamination

By Dr Mohamed Ghalaieny. A discussion paper reviewing the problem of toxic pollution from conflict and military activities, presented with an analysis of: existing concerns, methods of study, current legal and environmental controls and their deficiencies and suggested areas for future work. It concludes with a methodology for the assessment and hazard ranking of substances from military activities. The executive summary is presented below, and the full text can be downloaded from here.   Executive Summary Introduction This paper introduces concerns over civilian and environmental harm stemming from the release […]

Is coalition bombing behind a 17-fold increase in birth defects in an Iraqi city?

Is coalition bombing behind a 17-fold increase in birth defects in an Iraqi city?

By Liz Borkowski This article by guest contributor Liz Borkowski was originally published at The Pump Handle, a US based blog focusing on public health and environmental issues. In just eight years, the incidence of congenital birth defects in Iraq’s Al Basrah Maternity Hospital increased 17-fold, a new study reports. An earlier study found the incidence of birth defects at that hospital to be 1.37 per 1,000 live births between October 1994 and 1995 (out of more than 10,000 births total); in 2003, the rate had jumped to 23 per […]

The World Trade Centre Victim Compensation fund: An example of victim assistance that could be mirrored in assistance to victims of Toxic Remnants of War?

Posted by on Oct 24, 2012 in Blog, Health, Legal, Policy, Protection of civilians | No Comments
The World Trade Centre Victim Compensation fund: An example of victim assistance that could be mirrored in assistance to victims of Toxic Remnants of War?

The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health announced in September that it will expand the remit of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to include those who fall ill from cancer following their exposure to toxic substances during the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in 2001. In light of a recent medical study reporting a 17-fold increase in birth defects in war afflicted Iraqi cities, the TRW Project asks whether monitoring and assistance similar WTC Victim Compensation Fund should be afforded for victims […]