Burn pit exposure continues to affect veterans and their families

Open-air burn pits the U.S. military uses to eliminate waste in Iraq is said to be the cause of thousands of troops’ presumed illnesses. According to an article published by Stars and Stripes, unexploded ordnance, metal cans, plastics, Styrofoam, rubber, paint, lubricants, even body parts and animal carcasses are added to pits and ignited with jet fuel, bleeding heavy smoke into the same air the soldiers breathed around their bases.

More than 170,000 of veterans who spent time in Iraq have signed their names onto a national government registry that tracks exposure to burn pits, oil well fires, and other airborne hazards. However, the Veterans Affairs Department has rejected most of the disability compensation claims related to burn pit exposure to date, highlighting a 2011 Institute of Medicine report that states there is insufficient data to conclude whether they could cause long-term health problems.

The VA has claimed that they will continue to study the issue, saying that there are several bills pending in Congress. Among these bills, “are measures that also would allow families of deceased veterans to participate in the government’s airborne hazards registry and require the VA to create evaluation criteria for disability benefits for an illness often linked to burn pits, obliterative bronchiolitis.” The VA added that it is pursuing a new review focusing on respiratory health.

To learn more about how burn pit exposure continues to affect veterans and their families, click here.