War Related Illness and Injury Study Center
Pesticides used in the Gulf War fall into several major categories:
- Methyl carbamate organochlorine pesticides (lindane), used to treat uniforms
- DEET, used on the skin as an insect repellent
- Organophosphorus (OP) pesticides
- Pyrethroid pesticides (primarily permethrin)
Lindane and DEET were used as personal insect repellents, lindane to treat uniforms and DEET on the skin. All other pesticides shipped to the Gulf region were to be used only by specially trained individuals or for specific applications.
Institute of Medicine (IOM) Gulf War and Health report “Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War” (2010) concluded that current available evidence is not sufficient to establish a causative relationship between chronic multisymptom illness and any specific drug, toxin, plume or other agent, either alone or in combination. This report disagreed with the Research Advisory Committee's conclusion in its 2008 report that chronic multisymptom illness is caused by exposure to pyridostigmine bromide (PB) and pesticides.
VA continues to monitor Gulf War Veterans' health issues and conduct research. Past research on pesticides and Gulf War Veterans is summarized at VA's Public Health website.
If you are a Veteran concerned about exposure to pesticides during service, please speak with your primary care provider.