Like a breath of air: Court finds burn pits caused lung disease

This is a huge win to anyone deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11

Matt Saintsing
February 16, 2018 - 11:42 am
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U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter

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If you deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan anytime during the last 16 years, chances are, you’ve spent some time around a burn pit. As a result, thousands of returning service members later suffered from several lung and respiratory issues.

However, there now may be some much needed relief in the air.  

A judge under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office for Workers’ Compensation Programs has ruled that open-air burn pits, that released thousands of toxic chemicals into the air the military was breathing, are connected to respiratory disease, Fox News reports.

Everything from classified computer hard drives, to excess uniforms and equipment, to human waste were thrown into piles, doused usually with the jet fuel JP-8, and ablaze throughout U.S. military bases and combat outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan over the course of the conflicts there.

The ruling could be a huge victory for the more than 130,000 active duty troops and veterans who’ve place their names on a Burn Pit Registry, maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs, bringing them closer to getting medical coverage for their ailments.

If you’ve been around burn pits while deployed to Southwest Asia on or after Aug. 2, 1990, or Afghanistan or Djibouti after Sept. 1, 2001, you can put your name on the registry; the screening questionnaire takes about 40 minutes to complete.

You can report exposures to airborne hazards, such as smoke from burn pits, oil-well fires, or other pollution during your deployment(s), and other health concerns.

Several advocacy groups have lobbied for years for the federal government to recognize the litany of medical issues associated with burn pit exposure.

Former Vice President Joe Biden went so far as to say last month he thinks the toxic smoke could “play a significant role” in causing cancer in veterans, according to PBS.

For more information on burn pits and the registry, you can read the VA’s Vantage Point Blog on the suibject, or check out this VA Public Health website.