Burn Pits: Why Do They Matter?
Over 1.5 million American troops were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011. At some of the military bases throughout these regions, waste materials were disposed of in “burn pits.” Breathing in the fumes from the burn pits has damaged the health of countless veterans.
Given the serious concerns about possible long-term health risks for service members and veterans associated with their exposure to burn pits, it is critical for these individuals, their family members, medical providers, and advocates to be informed about the risks.
Determining Your Exposure Risk
It can be difficult for service members and veterans to determine their risk for medical complications or get care from their exposure to fumes from burn pits used to dispose of trash downrange.
A pilot project from the Center for a New American Security and the Wounded Warrior Project put together two maps to help veterans determine their exposure. These maps are broken down by location, time period, and types of particulate matter. Veterans can narrow down their exposure based on their past deployments, look up the relevant documents, and share them with their medical providers.
The pilot project shows both health risks of exposure to burn pits and the confidence in those risk assessments through time. It uses the Defense Department’s records for two types of particulate matter collected by the Periodic Occupational and Environmental Monitoring Summary (POEMS) from approximately 82 sites in three countries. The particulate matter includes chemicals, dust and other airborne particles that can be associated with long- or short-term health risks.
It is important to highlight that these maps are rough estimates. The DoD has not done a good job documenting exposure from burn pits, and therefore there is not enough data to determine risks for many locations.
Disability Benefits for Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans
If you suffer from an illness possibly related to exposure to an open burn pit while on active duty, please contact the experienced advocates at Veterans Help Group to evaluate any possible claims that could be made. You have a right to disability compensation if injuries from your service are affecting your ability to live a normal life. Call us at 855-855-8992 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.
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