Veterans blame “burn pits” for their chronic illnesses

Many of the more than 1.5 million veterans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011 returned with illnesses believed to be caused by breathing in toxic fumes from so-called “burn pits.”

According to an article published by CBS News, a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction stated, “It is indefensible that U.S. military personnel, who are already at risk of serious injury and death when fighting the enemy, were put at further risk from the potentially harmful emissions from the use of open-air burn pits,”. The report continued by saying that “millions of dollars were spent on incinerators to properly dispose of waste, but that many sat idle next to the active burn pits.”

Dr. Cecile Rose, an occupational medicine doctor and pulmonologist is the principal investigator of a five-year-long lung study funded by the Department of Defense that is aimed at understanding the spectrum of lung diseases that can occur after inhalational of these toxic fumes. To date, Dr. Rose has already obtained some results saying that they have identified a spectrum of diseases that are related to deployment that were clearly not there before.

More than 180,000 people have signed up for a voluntary burn pit registry developed by the Veterans Administration. However, of the 12,000 claims filed connected to burn pits, only about 2,500 have been accepted. Earlier this year, the U.S. Central Command identified nine burn pits that were emitting toxic smoke. The Command then stated that an additional 13 burn pits were currently burning non-hazardous waste, but said this could change at any time due to a change in battlefield conditions. A spokeswoman from the Department of Defense said, “We are concerned that toxins from burn pit emissions may pose health risks, and we are assessing potential long-term impacts.”

To learn more about how “burn pits” are affecting veterans, click HERE.