.." For example, during the Vietnam War the United States "sprayed 3640 km2 of South Vietnam's cropland with herbicides, using a total estimated amount of 55 million kg. The stated rationale was to deny the enemy sources of food and means of cover. This widespread use of chemicals to destroy farmland, forest and water sources is unprecedented, and the environmental consequences are still relatively unexplored. International teams have been granted access for field assessments only in the last few years." (Learning, 2000)
The work of Lindon, Jernelov, and Egerup (2004) entitled: "The Environmental Impacts of the Gulf War 1991" relates that the oil fires in Kuwait" emitted pollutants that potentially could affect the health and well-being of the people in the region. Most of the substances emitted from the burning wells can potentially cause adverse effects, which vary according to concentration and duration of exposure." In fact the concentrations of sulfur dioxide "were found to be below air quality standards throughout the Gulf region." (Lindon, Jernelov, and Egerup, 2004) Additionally stated is: "Concentrations of lead, cadmium, and cobalt in inhalable particles were found to be higher than their assumed safe limits, whereas nickel, vanadium, and copper were within safe limits. Organic pollutants, like aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), aliphatic hydrocarbons, and volatile organics, have several sources." (Lindon, Jernelov, and Egerup, 2004)
Lindon, Jernelov and Egerup (2004) additionally note that the most important impact from the Gulf crisis to the environment were "...emissions from the oil fires, evaporation from oil lakes, trenches filled with oil, the oil spill, combustion products from military hardware, and fallout from explosives. The mean concentrations of volatile organics measured in Kuwait during the fires were typical of those found in industrial/urban situations with large numbers of vehicles and combustion from power plants, industry etc. The highest levels were found, as expected, in and around the burning oil fields." A great deal of scientific evidence exists which links the levels of air pollution with acute respiratory illness. In fact, in a survey "conducted in Kuwait clinics and emergency rooms during the oil fires showed an increase in upper respiratory irritation, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.' (Lindon, Jernelov and Egerup, 2004)
The oil spills in this area have affected two species of marine war as well as those that result in preparation for war in the form of production of nuclear weapons has a great detrimental impact upon the environment which presents a threat not only to human beings but as well to animal and marine life. Pollution to the environment occurs on several levels and includes threats to the: (1) land; (2) air; and (3) sea and ultimately affects all forms of life on the planet. Clean up efforts following war and actions taken during times of war do not mitigate the damage nearly enough. There is a great need for a larger focus on the environmental pollution effects of war and methods that might be utilized in cleaning up areas impacted by these pollutants and contaminants. It has been noted in this study that there is not as of yet a full understanding of how these different factors impact the environment therefore, there is a need for further study in gaining a full understanding of how war and actions of war impact the environment in order to gain a better understanding of what might be done to mitigate and correct the impacts of war that result in environmental and ecological pollution.
Lessons from the Last Gulf War (2003) Greenpeace Briefing Feb. 2003. Online available at http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/lessons-from-the-gulf-war-the.pdf
Learning, Jennifer (2000) Environment and Health: Impact of War. CMAJ • OCT. 31, 2000; 163 (9). Online available at http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/reprint/163/9/1157.pdf
Amirahmadi, Hoosang (1992) Iranian Recovery From Industrial Devastation During War with Iraq. United Nations. 1992. Online available at http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu21le/uu21le0e.htm#environmental%20damage
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