Open-Air Burn Pits Have Left A Generation Of Troops With Health Problems

February 14th, 2014 - by admin

Harrison Jacobs / Business Insider & – 2014-02-14 02:46:23

The Military’s Open-Air Burn Pits Have Left
A Generation Of Troops With Health Problems

Harrison Jacobs / Business Insider

(November 5, 2013) — One of the most dangerous hazards of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was a product of the US military, according to a new investigative report by The Verge’s Katie Drummond. US soldiers have been coming home with respiratory issues that they say are a result of the noxious fumes spewing from burn pits on US Military bases.

Burn pits, many as large as 10 acres wide, have been used extensively on military bases to incinerate the Army’s trash since the start of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The military burned nearly everything in the pits, including plastic, styrofoam, electronics, metal cans, rubber, ammunition, explosives, feces, lithium batteries and even human body parts, according to a 2010 report from The New York Times’ James Risen.

There have been numerous news stories since 2008 detailing the dangers of burn pits and investigating their effects. Over that time, military officials have resolutely denied any connection between the burn pits and soldiers’ health concern.

The Department of Defense’s position, unchanged since 2008, is that the pits “may cause temporary coughing and redness or stinging of the eyes” but that they “usually do not cause lasting health effects….”

This is in contrast to reports from soldiers who have come back with asthma, chronic bronchitis, constrictive bronchiolitis, and, in some cases, terminal Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

The pits were originally supposed to be a makeshift solution at the beginning of the war, until the bases became more established. Then large, safer incinerators would be used. Even as recent as this past July, incinerators in Afghanistan were still not being used.

However, Drummond contends that the military has long known that burn pits can harm health. The Department of Defense’s 1978 waste-management guidelines cautioned against open-air burning and said that it should only be used “[when] there is no other alternative.”

Last year, Wired surfaced a 2011 Army memo by G. Michael Pratt, an environmental science engineering officer, that acknowledged the dangers of the pits:
The long term health risk associated with air conditions on BAF from PM2.5 and PM10 indicates there is a potential that long term exposure at these levels may increase the risk for developing chronic health conditions such as reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, atherosclerosis, or other cardiopulmonary diseases. This does not mean that service members that served on BAF will acquire adverse long term pulmonary or heart conditions but that the risk for such is increased.

Even after a scathing Senate hearing in 2009, the Pentagon’s position remained unchanged, according to a New York Times report in 2010:
“At this point in time, there is no medical data to indicate any specific illness or illnesses have been caused by exposure to burn-pit smoke,” Dr. Michael E. Kilpatrick, the deputy director of the Pentagon’s Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs, said in a statement.

Despite a 2012 study showing the deleterious effect of the burn pit particles and the thousands of veterans reporting health issues, the DoD has yet to significantly alter their position.

In January, the Obama administration mandated the creation of a Veteran Affairs “Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which at first seemed like progress. According to Drummond’s report, the registry required veterans to fill out a multiple-choice survey. Many veterans felt the survey was written in such a way to discount the effects the burn pits might have had on their health.

Two groups, led by soldiers and their families, are now fighting for an official change in position from the government that might get them benefits and medical research to alleviate the health issues.

The Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, led by Daniel Sullivan, has fought for the passage of the “Helping Veterans Exposed To Toxic Chemicals Act” which would fund three research centers dedicated to studying exposure-related illnesses. Iraq veteran LeRoy Torres and his wife Rosie maintain Burn Pits 360, an online registry where veterans can document their deployments, exposure and health issues.

Sullivan and the Torres have achieved one significant victory: getting the VA survey rewritten to be less antagonistic towards veterans. Other progress still seems to be slow going.

Check out the full story, which includes some really harrowing interviews with affected veterans and a photo essay of the pits,

Doctors Present Toxic Camp Victory Dust to Pentagon Subcommittee
Jeff Glor / CBS News

(February 9, 2014) — Iraq war veterans who developed a mysterious lung illness after being stationed at Camp Victory may finally get some answers. Doctors studying what they say is toxic dust at the camp will present their findings to a Pentagon subcommittee.

Iraq & Afghanistan Burn Pit
Chemical Exposure Cancer & Disease Claims

(February 09, 2014) — Breathing dust, fumes, and other toxic substances from burn pits, exposed troops deployed overseas, and those who worked for government contractors abroad and other civilians, to a serious hazards. Some of the chemicals were a very toxic carcinogens and are deadly.

At US Senate hearings it was revealed that the toxic carcinogen, Sodium Dichromate (CAS 10588-01-9), was spread across a ruined water-injection facility in Qarmat Ali, Iraq, when the soldiers were there in the spring and summer of 2003. Thousands of individuals may have been exposed.

A simple evaluation may assist in assessing your exposure and disease which includes: a history which characterized the exposure and preexisting medical conditions of each individual exposed; a physical exam that identified any findings potentially related to a chromium exposure, and medical tests including blood, urine, chest X-ray, and a breathing test (called a pulmonary function test).

An exposure to this chemical may produce:
Allergy-like symptoms
Breathing restrictions
Cancers (lung, brain, bone, skin)
Chronic bronchitis
Chronic coughs
Chronic respiratory infections
Constant Infections
Cramps and severe abdominal pain
Emotional Distress
Gastrointestinal illness and distress
Long term shortness of breath
Lung Cancer
Nose Bleeds
Pulmonary injuries
Reactive Airway Disease
Restrictive Airways Disease (Bronchiolitis)
Serious heart conditions
Severe Headache
Skin infection
Sleep apnea
Throat Infections
Unexpected weight loss
Weeping lesions on extremities

As a supporter for the improved health and welfare of individuals against hazardous occupational and environmental exposures, Jon L. Gelman advocates for changes in safety standards and safer use of chemicals. If you have been exposed to burn pit dust, smoke or fumes or Sodium Dichromate, contact Jon Gelman via e-mail to submit new claim information.

Known Burn Pit Locations

Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq

Camp Adder, Talil Air Base, Iraq

Al Asad Air Base, Iraq

Ali Air Base (formerly Talil Air Base)

Al Quo, Iraq

Al-Sahra, Iraq aka Camp Speicher

Camp Al Taji, IQ (Army Airfield)

Al Taqaddum, Iraq (Ridgeway)

Camp or LSA Anaconda, Iraq

Camp Anderson, Iraq

FOB Andrea

Camp Arifjan, Kuwait(Camden Yards)

Camp Ar Ramadi, Iraq

Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), Iraq

Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan

Balad Air Base, Iraq

Baqubah, Iraq (See Warhorse)

Camp Bastion Airfield, Afghanistan

Camp Bucca, Iraq

FOB Caldwell, Kirkuk, Iraq

Camp Cedar I and I, Talil Air Base, Iraq

Camp Chesty, Iraq

Camp Courage, Mosul, Iraq

Camp Cropper, Iraq

Camp Delta, Al Kut, Iraq

FOB Delta, Al Kut, Iraq

Diwaniya, Iraq

Djibouti, Africa

Camp Echo, Diwaynia, Iraq

FOB Endurance – Qayyarah Airfield West/Saddam Air Base
Fallujah, Iraq

FOB Fenty, Jalalabad, Afghanistan

FOB Hammer a/k/a Butler Range

FOB Freedom, Kirkuk, Iraq

FOB Gabe, Baqubah, Iraq

Former FOB Gains Mills

Camp Geiger, Iraq

Green Zone or International Zone, Iraq

Jalalabad, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kalsu, Iraq

Kandahar, Afghanistan

Kirkuk, Iraq

Kut Al Hayy Airbase, Iraq

Camp Liberty, Iraq (aka Camp Trashcan)

Camp Loyalty, Iraq

FOB Marez, Mosul, Iraq

FOB McHenry

COB Meade, Camp Liberty, Iraq

Mosul, Iraq
Navstar, Iraq

Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait

Doha, Qatar

Q-West, Iraq – Qayyarah Airfield West/Saddam Air Base

Camp Ridgeway, Iraq (Al Taquaddum)

Camp Rustamiyah, Iraq

FOB Salerno, Afghanistan

Camp Scania, Iraq

Scania, Iraq

Camp Shield, Baghdad, Iraq

Camp Speicher, Iraq aka Al Sahra Airfield (formerly FOB)

Camp Stryker, Iraq

FOB Sykes, Iraq (Tall’ Afar)

Taji, Iraq
Tall’ Afar, Iraq

Talil Air Base, Iraq (now is Ali Air Base)

Camp Victory, Iraq

FOB Warhorse, Baqubah, Iraq

FOB Warrior, Kirkuk, Iraq

Additional Resources:
Blog: Burn Pit Claims

Doctor to release findings on toxic dust from Iraq 2/9/14

US Sues KBR For Kickbacks and False Claims Relating to Iraq Support Service Contract 1/23/14

FOB Sharana: Poor Planning & Construction Resulted in $5.4 Million spent for Inoperable Incinerators and Continued use of Open-Air Burn Pits 12/16/13

DoD Expands Lung Cancer Screening for Vets 11/12/13

32 Tumors and More: Middle East Veterans Getting Strange Ailments 11/11/13

Veterans or Iraq, Afghanistan Battle Lung Trouble Upon Return Home 11/10/13

The Military’s Open Burn Pits Have Left A Generation of Troops With Health Problems 11/5/13

Burn Pit Appeal Heard by Court 11/4/13

The Faceless enemy in Iraq & Afghanistan That Has Harmed US Vets: Brun Pits 11/02/13

Why Our Military’s Toxic Burn Pits Are Making Soldiers Sick 10/29/13

Military burn pit claims in limbo 10/20/13

KBR seeks Combat Immunity In Soldier Toxic Exposure Case 9/3/13

VA Extends Public Comment Period for Open Burn Pit Questionnaire 7/25/13

Inspector General Reports Waste Incinerators at Forward Operting Bases Not Being Used 7-11-13

Proposed Draft Burn Pit Registry Questionnaire Published on the Internet 6/22/13

VA Requests Public Comments on Establishment of Open Burn Pit Registry 6-6-
Burn-pit claimants will appeal judge’s dismissal 6-4-13

VA Scientist Resigned Over Alleged Cover-Up Burn Pit Danger Data 3.15.13

Update: On Feb. 23, 2013, the US District Court for the District of Maryland dismissed the burn pit lawsuits that were consolidated in In re KBR Inc. Burn Pit Litigation.
Congressional Amendment to Bar Toxic Burning 6-30-31
New Law Proposed to Study Burn Pit Toxic Exposures 6-26-13
VA to Research Long-Term Health Effects of Burn Pits Exposures in Iraq & Afghanistan 2.4.13

VA Announces that Burn Pit Study to Determine Adverse Effects on Soldiers 2.1.2013

Health Answers Sought About Burned-off War Garbage 1.26.13
Burn-Pit Registry for Veterans Signed Into Law 1.10.13

Veterans Back Bills to Create Registry of Illnesses Blamed on Burn Pits 11.2.11

US Military Waste a Smoldering Afghan Health Issue 10.29.11

New Study: Respiratory Symptoms Necessitating Spirometry Among Soldiers With Iraq/Afghanistan War Lung Injury 8.23.11

Toxic Trash: The Burn Pits of Iraq and Afghanistan 8.24.11

US Military’s Open Burn Pits In Afghanistan May Be Making People Sick 8.24.11

Lung Problems Found in Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans 7/21/11
Constrictive Bronchiolitis in Soldiers Returning from Iraq and Afganistan 7.21.11

Rare Lung Disease Diagnosed in Soldiers 7.21.2011

Scientists Say Pentagon Misleads on Dust Study 7.6.2011

“Burn Pits” Blamed for Veteran’s Illnesses: Local Family Raising Awareness 7.7.2011

Lung Ailments Rise Among Iraq, Afgan Veterans 6.20.11

Emerging Research Focuses on Breathing Problems for Returning Soldiers 6.19.2011

Law Advances to Monitor Veterans for Illnesses 5.29.2011

New Studies Connect Respiratory Conditions With Middle East Troop Exposure 5.19.2011

Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan Studied for Toxic Exposures 5.16.2011

Increase in Military Illnesses Over the Last Decade 4.30.2011

Soldier Seeks Answers to Medical Condition 3.10.11

Senators Schumer and Nelson Told Military to Issue Respirator Masks for Sholdiers Who Work Near Burn Pits 2.10.2011

Veterans Seek Help for Burn Pit Health Claims 11.28.2010

Government Reports Burn Pit Standards Are Not Being Met 11.20.2010

Federal Court Allows Burn Pit Claims to Proceed Against
Halliburton & KBR 9.9.2010

National Guard Veterans Allowed to Proceed Against KBR 9.2.10

Institute of Medicine Holds Meeting on Burn Pit Exposures 8.9.2010

Poisoned by Burning Trash 8.6.2010

New Medical Study Confirms Lung Problems From Balad Burn Pit Exposure 7.3.2010

American Lung Association Urges US Senate to Ban Burn Pits 6.24.2010

Sleep Disorders Linked to Burn Pit Environmental Pollution 6.23.2010

House of Representatives Passes Burn Pit Registration Bill 6.6.2010

VA Establishes Burn Pit Web Site to Help Veterans 5.29.2010

US Intervenes in SUit Against KBR & Panalpina Alleging Kickbacks Under the False Claims Act 5.13.2010

Doctor Links Burn Pit Exposures to Respiratory Illness 5.9.2010

Dan Rather TV Documentary Highlights Burn Pit Health Hazards 5.7.2010

VA Outlines New Policy to Address Burn Pit Hazards 5.7.2010

Fox Reports on Toxic Burn Pits 4.30.2010

Sick Veterans Sue KRB Over Iraq & Afghanistan Burn Pits 3.26.10

GIs Tell of Horrors [asbestos] from Burn Pits – Houston Chronicle – 2.7.2010

Toxic Water in Iraq:- NBC News 12.30.09

VA Administration – Fact Sheet Sodium Dichromate Exposure Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant
“Hexavalent Chromium Exposure Weighs on Veterans” The Oregonian 12.28.09

“The Hidden Enemy” NBC-TV Story on National Guards Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium in Iraq (Video) 11.18.2008

Whistle-blower details exposure – Evansville Courier & Press 12.9.2006

Toxic Legacy in Iraq 10.8.2009

Defense Department to Investigate Hexavalent Chromium Exposure Claims 10.3.209

Soldiers Exposed to Chromium in Iraq File Suit 6.9.2009

Halliburton-KRB Sued for Endangering Military Contractors 4.30.2009

Indiana Guardsmen Sue KRB Over Chemical Exposure in Iraq – Democracy Now (Video) 12.4.2008

Did toxic chemical in Iraq sicken GIs? USA Today 6.28.09

OSHA: Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium (Cr(VI));

Final Rule Remand Fall 2009
Veterans Tell of Burn Pit Toxins

Additional Internet Resources:

The Defense Base Act Workmans Compensation Blog.

Read more about burn pit claims for benefits and lawsuits. Jon L. Gelman at 973.696.7900 or e-mail