Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Study questions whether Agent Orange exposure from Westover planes was enough to make Air Force crews sick

This undated photo shows five members of the 74th Aeromedical Evacaution Squadron standing in front of one of the C-123 Providers at Westover Air Reserve Base in the early 1980s. All were medical technicians at the time. From left are: Debbie Asamoah, Maj. Gail Mas Harrington of Shrewsbury; Susan Linenkemper of Lancaster; Cindy Lapa; and Marlene Wilson.

An Air Force study determined Westover Air Reserve crews were unlikely to have fallen ill from being exposed to Agent Orange while flying planes formerly used in the Vietnam War.

At the same time, the study said there is not enough data to made a definite determination if mechanics, pilots, medical crews and others were exposed to a high enough level of the dangerous chemical in the 10 years they flew the C-123 Providers.

The Air Force report, released Monday, was sparked by congressional inquiries and lobbying from crew members who served at Westover in Chicopee and flew the planes from 1972 to 1982.

“At this time we conclude that the discernible information suggests the potential Agent Orange exposures¦...¦were unlikely to have exceeded acceptable regulatory http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifstandards or have predisposed persons¦...¦to experience future adverse outcomes,” the report said.

But it said the tests were too few, too limited and too late — most were not taken until 12 years or more after the planes were flown at Westover.

The first known air samples were taken in 1979, but they did not test for dioxin, the hazardous chemical in Agent Orange. Surface samples taken in 1994 on one former Westover plane came back saying the plane was “highly contaminated.” In 1996, samples taken on 17 planes tested positive for dioxin.
READ MORE: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/study_questions_if_agent_orang.html

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