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Chemical weapons – Exposure to chemical weapons results in lifelong physical and mental ill-health

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Chemical weapons – Exposure to chemical weapons results in lifelong physical and mental ill-health

Chemical weapons – People exposed to chemical warfare agents (CWAs) often incur chronic damage to their lungs, skin and eyes, for example. They also frequently succumb to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. This is shown by research on survivors from the 1988 gas attacks against Kurdish Halabja in Iraq.

Sulfur mustard (SM, also known as mustard gas) and other chemical warfare agents (CWAs) remain a threat to human safety. Today, there are tens of thousands of patients, mainly in the Middle East, suffering from lasting damage after exposure to chemical weapons.

In the second half of the 1980s, SM was used on a large scale in Iraq. The most notorious and severe gas attacks were against the city of Halabja, where some 5,000 people died and tens of thousands were injured.

Damage to body and mind

The qualitative study now published is based on in-depth interviews with 16 patients diagnosed with chronic pulmonary complications, aged 34 to 67, in Halabja.

The victims suffer from severely impaired health, both physical and mental respiratory problems, insomnia, fatigue and eye problems.

It refers to powerful reaction that has limited their family lives, social relations and work capacity. Unemployment and loss of social capital have, in turn, led to social isolation.

Detection of their somatic and mental ill-health, can minimize the deterioration in their health,” Moradi thinks.

Important in Swedish care too

He also emphasizes the fact that hundreds of Kurdish and Syrian victims of gassing with SM have migrated to Sweden, and may need care and monitoring in the Swedish primary care services.

“Studies of SM-exposed patients in Sweden, and their symptoms, experience and care needs, are lacking.

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