Health effects of the 1991 Kuwait oil fires: a survey of US army troops

J Occup Environ Med. 1999 Jun;41(6):433-9. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199906000-00008.


The burning of oil wells in Kuwait in 1991 discharged a high volume of potentially toxic pollutants into the air. To determine whether there were health-related complaints associated with having lived and worked there, questionnaires were administered to 1599 soldiers after their return from a 3-month mission in Kuwait. Symptoms occurring before, during, and after the mission were queried. Compared with baseline, symptoms reported more frequently for the Kuwait period were eye and upper respiratory tract irritation, shortness of breath, cough, rashes, and fatigue. Symptoms were associated with reported proximity to oil fires, and their incidence generally decreased after the soldiers left Kuwait. Oil-fire smoke is one of several possible factors that may have contributed to the reporting of symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Fires*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Kuwait
  • Male
  • Military Medicine
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Warfare