The list of waste products discarded in burn pits is quite extensive. From approximately 2002 to 2012, the U.S military operated large burn pits to dispose of waste at forward operating bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the items burned include airplane parts, oil and gas, medical waste, batteries, electronics, and plastic chemical drums (this list only depicts a handful of the items burned). Typically, everything was burned using JP8 jet fuel. The largest burn pit- at Joint Base Balad- expanded to an area of almost 20 acres and burned about 200 tons of solid waste every day when it was at its peak of operations. From 2002 until 2009 there was no regulation for what could or could not be burned in these pits.
Air Sampling was performed at Balad and the results were discussed in an unclassified 2008 assessment. The air sampling detected the following: particulate matter (PM), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, and toxic organic halogenated dioxins and furans. At Joint Base Balad, particulate matter levels consistently exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). At one point the concertation level of particulate matter at Joint Base Balad was 342.5 ug/m3 or micrograms per cubic meter of air, while the NAAQS was 110 ug/m3. Exposure to excessive particulate matter is linked to a variety of potential health effects.
To learn more, read the full blog here – What are Military Burn Pits?
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