Speed Reads

Chem trails

At least 629 U.S. troops were exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq

The Pentagon has uncovered 629 service members who said they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq, after prodding from The New York Times. The troops came into contact with the nerve agent sarin, mustard gas, or other chemical munitions left over from the 1980s either when destroying stockpiles of degraded chemical weapons or coming in contact through contaminated shells repurposed as roadside bombs.

There are probably more Iraq veterans and active-duty troops who were exposed, veteran advocates tell The Times, and the Pentagon has set up a hotline for military personnel who believe they had contact with chemical agents. The extent of the exposure and any lingering health effects are hard to determine, and though the number of people who came in contact with chemical agents is almost certainly higher than 629, the number of people suffering ill effects is anyone's guess. Read more about the hidden toll of Iraq's leftover chemical munitions at The New York Times, or you can watch the 13-minute documentary below. --Peter Weber