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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) generally authorizes service-connection and compensation to veterans who were exposed to significant levels of mustard gas or Lewisite, a blister-producing chemical, and who suffer from health problems such as chronic conjunctivitis, keratitis, laryngeal and lung cancer, emphysema, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mustard gas has been used as a chemical weapon during combat in World War I, World War II, and the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. It is an organic compound related to sulfur mustard and nitrogen mustard. Lewisite is an arsenic-containing agent and, like mustard gas, has a yellow-brown color. Both gases smell like mustard, garlic, or horseradish; however, at room temperature, they are thick and odorless.

If you served in the military and have suffered due to the exposure of this chemical substance, contact our firm for assistance with filing a mustard gas claim.

Instances of Potential Exposure to Mustard Gas

There were at least three secret chemical experiments conducted by the military in the mid to late 1900s. Between 1942 and 1975, the Navy and the Army conducted World War II mustard gas tests. The Army also produced tests during the Cold War era.

At the beginning of World War II, allied forces knew little of the mustard agent’s offensive use and had not developed effective protection from it. The Allies feared the use of chemical agents, especially mustard gas, by the Germans and Japanese. The Navy soon produced secret tests of the defenses and uses of mustard gas. The program involved gas chambers in which participants experienced full body exposure while testing protective clothing and skin durability.

Volunteer soldiers were recruited by the Department of Defense in the 1940s as subjects for mustard gas experiments. The experiments would evaluate ways to protect troops against mustard gas attacks. Nearly 60,000 soldiers and military personnel were participants in mild exposures, and an estimated 4,000 were subjected to severe exposures due to field exercises over contaminated grounds. The Department of Defense has conducted an outreach to exposed veterans since the early 1990s, informing them of their benefits.

Filing a Mustard Gas Claim

The VA has recently relaxed some of their strict qualification requirements for filing a compensation claim related to mustard gas exposure. This is due to the fact that the military did not keep the record for many of the participants of the tests, and there is no roster for those who served in the secret mustard gas tests. Also, military doctors did not do many follow-up tests on the exposed participants, making it hard for veterans to prove that a condition resulted from mustard gas testing.

The Institute of Medicine believes the following conditions are related to mustard gas exposure:

  • Respiratory cancers (nasopharyngeal, laryngeal, and lung)
  • Skin cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Leukemia
  • Laryngitis
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • Chronic conjunctivitis
  • Chronic keratitis
  • Corneal opacities

Contact a Lawyer for Assistance with Mustard Gas Claims

If you think you may be eligible for disability benefits on the basis of mustard gas exposure or other service-related disabilities, contact our firm for a free consultation. We can offer guidance regarding your eligibility for veteran’s disability benefits. To schedule a consultation about mustard gas claims, call or send us an email using our online contact form.

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