Environmental Health Information for Veterans

Environmental and Occupational Exposures

The links below provide access to all available reports done by, or sponsored by, the U.S. government, and a listing of articles from peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals related to the Research Topic: Environmental and Occupational Exposures.

Exposure Registries

The VA tracks veterans' special health concerns through four registries: Agent Orange, Gulf War/ Operation Iraqi Freedom, Depleted Uranium, Ionizing Radiation.

War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC)

The New Jersey War-Related Illness Injury Screening Clinic (WWRIISC-NJ) provides a second opinion for combat veterans with difficult-to-diagnose war-related illnesses and injuries.

War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) Exposure Clinic

The War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) at the East Orange VA Medical Center has a special clinic to address veterans' deployment and service related exposure concerns.

Environmental Agents

  • Environmental Agents
    Information for veterans, their families and others about VA health care programs related to environmental issues
  • Current Southwest Asia Exposures
    US Department of Defense information about environmental exposures of troops deployed in Southwest Asia

Chemical Exposures

Agent Orange

Herbicides were used in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 to remove unwanted plant life and leaves which otherwise provided cover for enemy forces during the Vietnam Conflict.

  • Environmental Agents Service
    Information for veterans, their families and others about VA health care programs related to Agent Orange. Programs include healthcare services, disability compensation for veterans with service-connected illnesses, scientific research and outreach and education
  • Benefits
    Vietnam veterans may be eligible for compensation and health care for certain diseases associated with Agent Orange. Based on clinical research, the following diseases are on VA's Agent Orange list of presumptive disabilities:
    • acute subacute peripheral neurophathy
    • B cell leukemias
    • chloracne
    • chronic lymphocytic leukemia
    • Hodgkin's disease
    • ischemic heart disease
    • multiple myeloma
    • non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
    • Parkinson's disease
    • porphyria cutanea tarda
    • prostate cancer
    • respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx and trachea)
    • soft-tisue sarcoma, acute
    • type II diabetes mellitus


  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - EPA leads the nation's environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts
  • Medline Plus- MedlinePlus brings together information from the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health - is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) - federal agency responsible for safety and health of America's workers

Depleted Uranium

Metallic uranium (U) is a silver-white, lustrous, dense, weakly radioactive element. Natural uranium consists of a mixture of three radioactive isotopes which are identified by the mass numbers 238U, 235U and 234U.

Uranium is commonly found throughout the natural environment, in varying but small amounts in rocks, soils, water, air, plants, animals and in all human beings.

Uranium is used primarily in nuclear power plants. However, most reactors require uranium in which the 235U content is enriched from 0.72% to about 1.5-3%. The uranium remaining after removal of the enriched portion is referred to as depleted uranium or DU.

DU is weakly radioactive and a radiation dose from it would be about 60% of that from purified natural uranium with the same mass. DU is used in armor penetrating military ordnance because of its high density, and also because DU can ignite on impact if the temperature exceeds 600°C.

Sources of information on Depleted Uranium (DU):

Jet Fuel Propellant

Jet Fuel propellant (JP-8) powers military aircraft and other high performance vehicles and equipment, including tanks, power generators and space heaters.

Oil Fires

The Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses investigated the events surrounding the Kuwait oil fires and their potential impacts on human health.

  • Deployment Health Clinical Center - U.S. Department of Defense Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC)
  • Gulf Link (Report) - by RAND Health's Center for Military Health Policy Research and the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the National Defense Research Institute. The latter is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies
  • Asthma concerns related to oil fires - U.S. Department of Defense Deployment Health Clinical Center link
  • Links related to oil fires -- U.S. Department of Defense Deployment Health Clinical Center environmental exposure information related to deployments in the Gulf region

Particulate Matter

These Department of Defense links discuss exposure of military personnel to air pollution and respirable particulate matter during the Gulf War (1990-1991).


Pesticides are used to control insects, ticks, rodents and poisonous plants during military service.

  • Pesticides - U.S. Department of Defense Deployment Health Clinical Center link

Other Topics:

  • Chemical-Biological Warfare Exposure Web site - Provide Service members, veterans, their families and the public with information on what happened during CB testing conducted from 1942 to 1975.
  • Chemical Interactions - US Department of Defense Force Health Protection & Readiness Web site
  • Ionizing Radiation - Information for veterans, their families and others about VA health care programs related to ionizing radiation issues

Other Resources