All during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military personnel and its contractors used burn pits to dispose of waste. Reports have noted that, depending on location, 147 to 400 tons of waste were burned – per day! Now, it appears now that veterans are now extremely ill or dying from their exposure this garbage disposal process.
As an example, one pit located at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, burned
Computer parts, animal carcasses, medical waste (including body parts), lithium ion batteries, furniture, plastic bottles, insecticide canisters, DEET-soaked tents, human excrement, plastic drums, food waste, even whole vehicle.
And some of the contaminants emitted during this disposal process included
Dioxins, particulate matter polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, hexachlorobenzene, and ash.
Vets HQ has identified the specific locations of 268 burn pits at a number of different military installations and other locations across the east and middle east: Iraq (139), Afghanistan (93), Kuwait (12), Somalia (4), and other sites (20).
But what about the heath effects from burn pit contamination? In a 2011 report, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made claims that
Found inadequate or insufficient evidence of a relation between exposure to combustion products and cancer, respiratory diseases, circulatory diseases, neurological diseases, and adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes.
But results from a 2015 VA survey, veterans reported
Respiratory diseases other than allergies, with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitism, high blood pressure, have higher rates of common respiratory illnesses like asthma and emphysema, as well as rare lung disorders.
And veterans are extremely ill or are dying with a variety of different cancers (here and here). Over the period of 2002 to early 2015, 16,304 were diagnosed with cancer, roughly a third with non-melanoma skin cancer, 16% with prostate cancer, another 10% with melanoma, 8% with testicular cancer and the remainder with lymphoid, colon, thyroid, breast and undetermined cancer.
In the mean time, Congress has introduced two bills: Senate bill, S. 319, Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits, and its corresponding House bill, H.R. 1279.
All veterans who were exposed to any of the previously mentioned 268 burn pit locatioins should go to the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry – even if you are not sick. Information suggests it may take as long as 40 minutes to complete the process. At the present time, the VA reports that 110,907 service members have registered as of June 23, 2017.
Note: More information can be found in two VA reports:
As well as Joseph Hickman’s shocking book: “The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers”.
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