Burn pits have been widely used in United States military operations overseas, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq in the post-9/11 era, to incinerate the tons of trash and waste produced daily. Contents could include trash, human waste, chemical waste, and even weapons and electronics. Anything that needed to be disposed of was thrown into these pits- without any regulation- until around 2010. Service members on bases with burn pits immediately began to experience the negative health effects that resulted from being near these pits on a daily basis. However, the Department of Defense and VA maintained that research simply showed no evidence that long term health problems were to be expected. Information from the American Public Health Association states the following:
“Outcomes such as neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer have been explored in association with the chemicals and pollutants emitted from open-air burn pits, particularly through proxy occupations that expose workers (e.g., firefighters and incinerator workers) to similar pollutants. Further study is needed among US soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to explore associations between levels of exposure and adverse health outcomes.”
“…Burn pits were used to dispose of chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metal/aluminum cans, munitions and other unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics and Styrofoam, and rubber.”
The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry was created to help veterans by enabling those affected to apply for eligibility despite the limited amount of research that has been done so far. This registry offers a way to report your exposure to burn pits (as well as oil fires and other environmental contaminants that are harmful to your health), so long as you were deployed to certain locations in Southwest Asia, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and/or other locations, on or after August 2, 1990. In the VA system as it stands now, you must prove that your health condition is at least as likely as not due to your exposure to burn pits. This will require a VA medical examination. This type of claim is decided on a case-by-case basis.
Have you applied for disability benefits due to a health condition you believe was caused by exposure to burn pits during service? If your claim was denied, the experienced attorneys of Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick can help. We have over 25 years of successfully experience in securing veterans the VA disability benefits owed to them. For immediate help, call 401-331-6300 or contact us online.