What You Should Know about Burn Pits and Hazardous Exposure

What You Should Know about Burn Pits and Hazardous Exposure

Veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other military sites know that large shallow pits were dug and used to burn massive amounts of waste. Human and food waste, munitions, old uniforms, electronics, plastic, oil, and much more were disposed of in the burn pits.

With no regulations on what was being burned until 2009, the pits were constantly incinerating waste, and the smoke and fumes were overpowering the air. This led to such a mix of toxins and contaminants in the air that many on active duty experienced difficulty breathing, chronic cough, and respiratory issues that continued to increase in severity. Areas where the burn pits were in use and veterans were affected include not only Iraq and Afghanistan, but also other military sites in the Southwest Asia Theatre of operations such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the waters of the Persian Gulf and more.

Veterans who were close to the burn pit smoke and/or exposed to it for longer periods of time may have a higher risk of developing certain health issues. It is also important to consider the type of waste that was being burned, as this can affect the risks associated with burn pit exposure.

Health Issues from Burn Pit Exposure

Service members of all ages were affected, and with very serious conditions such as:

  • Respiratory issues – along with the chronic cough, other issues such as asthma and emphysema were reported in service members, as well as constrictive bronchiolitis, a fibrotic disease that makes breathing difficult.
  • Skin problems and rashes
  • Rare cancers, including leukemia
  • Heart problems
  • Stomach disorders with symptoms like that of IBS 

The VA is continuing to study the health of veterans exposed to burn pits. Claims for disability related to burn pit exposure are decided on a case-by-case basis. You will have to show that your diagnosed disability is connected  to your military service in order to receive disability benefits. If you had previous health issues that were aggravated by your exposure to burn pits, you could also qualify as having a service-connected disability.

The VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry allows eligible veterans to report their health concerns and document their exposure through an online questionnaire. This registry is not required for those who want to receive VA benefits.

Are you ill due to exposure to a burn pit? If you would like to file an appeal or explore your options further, talk to the veterans attorneys at Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Our veterans disability lawyers have over 25 years of experience in securing veterans disability benefits. For immediate help, call 401-331-6300 or contact us online.

Category: Veterans Law