Sunday, October 14, 2012


The big story for Iraq today is the birth defects.  A new study by the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology is getting attention from the press.  The war -- specifically the weapons -- contaminated Iraq and led to a skyrocketing in the number of birth defects.  Press TV explains:

Between 2007 and 2010 in F[a]llujah, over half of all the surveyed babies were born with birth defects. Before the US-led invasion of Iraq, the figure was one in 10.
In Basrah’s Maternity Hospital, over 20 babies out of 1000 were born with defects in 2003, which makes the figure 17 times higher than it was in the previous decade.

Al Arabiya adds that samples demonstrate residents of Falluja are exposed to extremely high levels of mercury, lead and other "poisonous metals."  And when those are in the eco-system, exposure becomes highly common.  RT offers,  "According to the WHO, a pregnant woman can be exposed to lead or mercury through the air, water and soil. The woman can then pass the exposure to her unborn child through her bones, and high levels of toxins can damage kidneys and brains, and cause blindness, seizures, muteness, lack of coordination and even death."   Current notes:

The report's authors link the rising number of babies born with birth defects in the two cities to increased exposure to metals released by bombs and bullets used over the past two decades. Scientists who studied hair samples of the population in Fallujah found that levels of lead were five times higher in the hair of children with birth defects than in other children; mercury levels were six times higher. Children with defects in Basra had three times more lead in their teeth than children living in non-impacted areas. Dr Savabieasfahani said that for the first time, there is a "footprint of metal in the population" and that there is "compelling evidence linking the staggering increases in Iraqi birth defects to neuro-toxic metal contamination following the repeated bombardments of Iraqi cities". She called the "epidemic" a "public health crisis". "In utero exposure to pollutants can drastically change the outcome of an otherwise normal pregnancy. The metal levels we see in the Fallujah children with birth defects clearly indicates that metals were involved in manifestation of birth defects in these children," she said. "The massive and repeated bombardment of these cities is clearly implicated here. I have no knowledge of any alternative source of metal contamination in these areas." She added that the data was likely to be an "underestimate", as many parents who give birth to children with defects hide them from public view.
Professor Alastair Hay, a professor of environmental toxicology at Leeds University, said the figures presented in the study were "absolutely extraordinary". He added: "People here would be worried if there was a five or 10 per cent increase [in birth defects]. If there's a fivefold increase in Fallujah, no one could possibly ignore that; it's crying out for an explanation as to what's the cause. A rapid increase in exposure to lead and mercury seems reasonable if lots of ammunition is going off. I would have also thought a major factor would be the extreme stress people are under in that period; we know this can cause major physiological changes."

This tracks with the findings from earlier studies -- such as the 2010 one.  Last spring, Karlos Zurutuza (IPS) reported that in January alone, Falluja saw 672 children born with birth defects.  Gene Clancy (Workers World) observed a year ago that "Fallujah sees at least 11 times as many major defects in newborns as world averages, research shows."  At the start of this year, Dahr Jamail reported for Al Jazeera, "Most of these babies in Fallujah die within 20 to 30 minutes after being born, but not all."  As usual, expect US outlets to ignore the study.  Especially the New York Times which ran the 'fanciful' writing of Dexter Filkins.  We called it out the day it was published.  Dexy won an award for that 2004 crap.  But sometimes a person gets stripped of their award.  That is very likely the fate that awaits Dexy.

Turning to today's violence, Alsumaria notes a Tikrit attack that left a judge's bodyguard injured, an armed attack in Kharrar left 1 police officer dead and three more injured.  All Iraq News adds that a Tarmiya attack left 1 Sahwa dead and one civilian injured and a Mosul bombing left one police officer and one civilian injured.

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

 The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

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