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This is a story that originated 10 years ago and is now back with a vengeance and has shortened my husbands life expectancy by as much as 10 years and the government will not lend assistance.  This is how America takes care of their own.  I met my husband 10 years ago in Northern California where he had been stationed for most of his military career at Beale Air Force base.  My husbands job was that of a U2 Crew Chief which basically equates to an aircraft mechanic.  Not long after we met he was given the opportunity to work in the tool crib that issues out the tools to the mechanics.  They had several checks and balances to meet requirements and one of the forms they had to complete was with regards to HazMat to test for Cadmium.  They ordered chemical testing kits to test for this heavy metal as per their requirements and promptly set out testing the equipment.  The readings were off the chart so they thought perhaps the testing supplies were broken and they ordered more.  This set off bells and whistles with the HazMat and they contacted my husband to find out why they were ordering so many of these meters.  He explained what had happened when they tested the equipment and this set off an investigation.

My husband explained to me that Cadmium is used in plating hardware to prevent rust and corrosion so I think it's important to look at what Cadmium really is and what effects it can have on the human body.  Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

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Cadmium is an extremely toxic metal commonly found in industrial workplaces. Due to its low permissible exposure limit, overexposures may occur even in situations where trace quantities of cadmium are found. Cadmium is used extensively in electroplating, although the nature of the operation does not generally lead to overexposures. Cadmium is also found in some industrial paints and may represent a hazard when sprayed. Operations involving removal of cadmium paints by scraping or blasting may pose a significant hazard. Cadmium is also present in the manufacture of some types of batteries. Exposures to cadmium are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, construction industry, and the agricultural industry.[1]

Clinical Effects

Acute exposure to cadmium fumes may cause flu like symptoms including chills, fever, and muscle ache sometimes referred to as "the cadmium blues." Symptoms may resolve after a week if there is no respiratory damage. More severe exposures can cause tracheo-bronchitis, pneumonitis, and pulmonary edema. Symptoms of inflammation may start hours after the exposure and include cough, dryness and irritation of the nose and throat, headache, dizziness, weakness, fever, chills, and chest pain.

Inhaling cadmium-laden dust quickly leads to respiratory tract and kidney problems which can be fatal (often from renal failure). Ingestion of any significant amount of cadmium causes immediate poisoning and damage to the liver and the kidneys. Compounds containing cadmium are also carcinogenic[citation needed].

The bones become soft (osteomalacia), lose bone mineral density (osteoporosis) and become weaker. This causes the pain in the joints and the back, and also increases the risk of fractures. In extreme cases of cadmium poisoning, mere body weight causes a fracture.

The kidneys lose their function to remove acids from the blood in proximal renal tubular dysfunction. The kidney damage inflicted by cadmium poisoning is irreversible. The proximal renal tubular dysfunction creates low phosphate levels in the blood (hypophosphatemia), causing muscle weakness and sometimes coma. The dysfunction also causes gout, a form of arthritis due to the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints because of high acidity of the blood (hyperuricemia). Another side effect is increased levels of chloride in the blood (hyperchloremia). The kidneys can also shrink up to 30%.

Other patients lose their sense of smell (anosmia).

The agency performed an investigation and found that the levels were 240 parts per million with the swipe test.  The allowed limit is 1 part per million.  We have this report showing the results of their investigation and the military of course has the same document.  When we found out that the levels were elevated to such limits, my husband went to the military hospital and had a test done to for heavy metal exposure.  The Regulatory limit is  0.2 and his results were 2.6.  This test was done in 2002.  The doctors basically gave him a clean bill of health and left it at that.  My husband has had medical problems consistent with heavy metal poisoning for as long as I have known him but the doctors were giving him a clean bill of health.

Over the years the symptoms have gotten much worse, so my husband found a doctor's office not far from where we live and had them perform a heavy metals test.  Needless to say we were absolutely floored when the results came back and the levels were off the charts.  They also took several x-rays and those x-rays came out very dark which the doctor explained is an indicator of the heavy metals in his body.  My husband has always complained of back pain and in fact his back pops and snaps all the time and he is in constant pain.  The doctor told him that due to this exposure and bone loss, his spine is trying to fuse his back together just to hold his body upright.  Cadmium causes bone mineral density loss.   Last year my husband had to have all of his teeth pulled and fitted with dentures due to the bone loss.  While my husband was active duty he was in the dental office all the time for what they called deep cleaning.  He probably had some of the most plaque free teeth around.  They never found plaque, yet the bone loss continued and he eventually he lost all of his teeth.

The other medical issue that has happened as a direct cause of this exposure is that his liver is starting to shut down which is also indicative of toxic exposure to this heavy metal.  We are paying out of pocket as the doctor's office that he found requires payment up front even if you have insurance as which we do.  The doctor told him the only way to get heavy metals out of the body is via Chelation.  My husband started this treatment which the doctor told him he would need to go in each week for a minimum of 20 weeks and possibly may need more treatments depending on the results they get back after doing another heavy metals test after he has undergone the treatments.

The metals that are in his body that are showing up as off the charts were Cadmium and Lead.  All of us have some heavy metals in our bodies to a certain extent but not these very toxic levels.  We were quite shocked to see that he had also been exposed to Cesium and Uranium as well.  When we moved out of California, we went to Alaska where he spent his remaining 5 years before retiring.  He had been a U2 Crew Chief for most of his military career and that is one of the reasons why he spent most of his time in Northern California as this is one of the bases where the U2's are located.  Since there are no U2's at the base we went to, he was put on the flight line to be an A10 Crew Chief.  A10's ammo contain depleted Uranium which would also explain this exposure.

Next step after getting the results of the heavy metals test was to go to the local VA office where we live.  My husband brought his military medical records and the EPA report with him as well as his latest heavy metals test and the person at the VA office told my husband that it was his responsibility to have the doctor's office write a letter stating that his medical problems were caused from heavy metals exposure.  My husband went to the doctor's office and asked for a letter which was promptly refused.  Back to the VA office and again he was told to find himself a doctor that would write a letter.  This is just getting ridiculous now and so far he has only had 3 very expensive treatments.  My husband has finally had enough so he went back yet again to the VA and they gave him the phone number to the VA clinic here in town.  He called the office and gave them the information and they told him they would call him back that day.  He never got a call back so he tried calling again a few days later.  This time they hung up on him.  He called right back and finally secured an appointment at the end of this month but wait, it gets better or in our case much worse.  They told him he would have to pay out of pocket.  If a person is injured in the workplace it is not their responsibility to pay out of pocket to get seen by a doctor and it's not their responsibility to find a doctor either. There is a reason why employers pay Workers Compensation premiums but apparently the government doesn't have to follow the same rules with regards to injured service men and women.

My husband stays in touch with his military friends via Facebook so he contacted a few of the people that were stationed there at the same time this incident happened to let them know what was going on and as it turns out, other people that he worked with are having similar medical problems but hadn't put the puzzle pieces together.  I'm not sure how they will be treated but I can't imagine them helping them anymore so then they are helping out my husband.  How does one go about making the government take care of their injured service men and women when you are faced with such an issue?  We are at wits end and to the point of getting a lawyer to file a class action lawsuit against this travesty of justice but why should we have to go through that hassle when the proof is written in black and white and on file with the government.  Do I have faith is the systems that are put into place in our society?  No, not in the least and the reason is that we are nobody special, just your average Americans trying to make a living.  Perhaps if we were bankers or movie stars then this would all be a moot point because money is the key and if you don't have it then don't expect much, let alone the government fessing up to the exposure in my husband's case.  The other thing about lawsuits is that they can drag out for years and in my husband's case, time is not an option we have.

If I have to make this story public and get it in the light then that is what I will do.  In the meantime my husband is very sick and his quality of life is diminished due to this exposure.  I would urge anyone that was stationed at Beale Air Force base and worked either as mechanics or worked in the toxic tool crib to get tested as soon as possible.  There is no way to reverse the damage that has already been done in my husband's case but the longer these metals stay in his system the worse it will get.  It's not like he can grow a new set of teeth and his back will always be an issue from the damage done due to the bone loss.  My hope is that he can get some treatment so that the metals can be removed from his body and will at least have the disease process stopped.   Damage is already done.  If people can start a revolution by using social networking then perhaps we can see change in the same way for this very real issue facing not only my family but Im sure many others that are faced with the same challenges.

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Ravensong, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Denise Richardson wrote Apr 14, 2011
    • I am so sorry to hear this miss fortune in you and your husband’s life have you tried going to the Veteran’s Administration Building for help in your area if you have one there to see if they will do anything for you or write a letter to Washington, call your local newspaper and local TV stations and demand an interview to bring light to this but I agree they own him big time! God bless you both, my prayers are with you.



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Apr 14, 2011
    • I suggest you call the local media and join forces with his friends - or why not contact Erin Brockovich as the case that made her name was about Cadmium



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Denise Richardson wrote Apr 14, 2011
    • heartGreat advice UKGirl on the Erin Brockovich case.



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Ravensong wrote Apr 15, 2011
    • Thank you all for your kind words. I hadnt thought about Erin Brockovich so I will definately try and get in touch.  We did go to the local VA office and they are the ones telling my husband its his responsibility to find a doctor to write a letter that states that the heavy metal exposure is causing all of his medical problems.  ITs been a nightmare.  I finally got fed up after his last attempt to get help so I have sent this in to news media, politicians and anyone else that would listen.  Im sorry it stripped out the links but I am not a premium member and wasnt able to attach the medical reports.  He has spoken with people that he worked with during this time and they to are going through similar medical issues but had no idea about the exposure so its hard to say how many of our service members were affected by this.  Thanks again



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Apr 15, 2011
    • Ravensong the more people like Erin B hear about this and the more media you contact the more you will get noticed the other thing to do is a blogSpot so you can have a place to put all your thoughts and will help with Google search



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