Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.

Public Health

Quick Links
Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge

Qarmat Ali hexavalent chromium exposure in Iraq (2003 -2004)

Military Exposures & Your Health: Information for Veterans who servedthe gulf war era and their families

The Qarmat Ali water treatment plant was part of Iraq’s oil infrastructure. Water from the Tigris river was injected into the ground to drive oil to the surface. Prior to U.S. occupation of the site, the water was filtered and treated with sodium dichromate (which includes hexavalent chromium) to prevent the corrosion of pipelines, pumps, and other equipment. Pre-war operations and post-war vandalism resulted in sodium dichromate contamination in parts of the facility.   

Between April 2003-January 2004, U.S. soldiers worked at, but did not live on this site. Initially, soldiers from the Oregon and West Virginia Army National Guard (ARNG) escorted civilian employees and contractors on day trips from Kuwait to perform work at the site. Then, soldiers from the Indiana and South Carolina ARNG were added to the mission and, eventually, replaced the Oregon and West Virginia ARNG.   

General awareness of sodium dichromate at the site occurred around June 2003. Initial mitigation efforts started that month by placing outside soil on top of the yellow stained soil within the site. Official remediation efforts began on August 18, 2003 and continued into October 2003.   

On September 19, 2003, an order was placed restricting all coalition soldiers from entering the site and discontinuing any mission to the facility without permission from the Command Surgeon. On October 17, 2003, coalition soldiers were restricted from entering certain portions of the Qarmat Ali facility and mandated appropriate personal protective equipment when they did so.  

From September 30 through November 2, 2003, the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (CHPPM, now the Army Public Health Center) performed medical screenings of 129 Indiana ARNG soldiers and 10 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel who were on-site. In addition, CHPPM provided questionnaires to 52 Oregon ARNG soldiers and 53 South Carolina ARNG soldiers who were still responsible, but no longer serving at the site during the evaluation.

In 2016, a paper was published in the journal “Military Medicine” describing the findings of a review of Gulf War Registry exams from 124 Veterans as of January 1, 2012. Exams were performed at VA facilities in South Carolina, Indiana, Oregon, and West Virginia, the states where the ARNG units were stationed. Of the 124 Veterans, 37 completed a 1-year follow-up exam. No abnormalities that were specific to chromium exposure were noted from both the initial and follow up evaluation in any of the Veterans.     

The Army’s Public Health Center has conducted an outreach program to 286 individuals who were with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was completed in December 2018.  

VA has scheduled and completed some exams already in Oregon and West Virginia, and is beginning the process in South Carolina and Indiana. The start of this effort was delayed to 2021 instead of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID continues to cause some delays in scheduling.  

All Qarmat Ali Veterans are eligible for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. Participation in this registry is not required for the Qarmat Ali special exam. 


If you were on site at Qarmat Ali and were not notified by VA about a follow-up, please contact:

Portland Oregon area
Jami Smith
Phone: 503-906-5119

South Carolina
Jeffrey Grimes
Phone: 843-577-5011 x5294

Lana Davila
Phone: 216-739-7000 ext. 40358

West Virginia
Bessie Farley
Phone: 304-623-3461

You can also contact to facilitate this exam. Learn more about the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Facility.

Environmental health coordinators directory


Health Care

TDD (Hearing Impaired)