Regulation of Burn Pits Today & How Service Members Are Still Affected
The Department of Defense (DoD) created regulations requiring open burn pits to be used only in temporary situations in 2009. Before these regulations were created, open burn pits were used throughout Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of many different types of waste.
Regulations on Burn Pits
There are now DoD burn pit regulations that limit when and how burn pits can be used. Open burn pits are only to be used when no other waste disposal method is feasible. Certain items, such as munitions, are not permitted to be disposed of in burn pits, and an assessment of the health risks to service members is required for each burn pit.
Before the DoD began regulating burn pits, there were few restrictions on when or how they were used. Human waste, chemicals, munitions, metal cans, petroleum, and more items were all thrown into the burn pits.
Many service members at sites with burn pits experienced coughing and breathing difficulties. Eventually, the VA and DoD began to consider the possibility that burn pits may cause long-term health complications.
Health Issues Related to Burn Pits
At this time, there is not yet conclusive evidence that open burn pits caused long-term health problems. However, there is some limited but suggestive evidence that service members who were exposed to burn pits experience more health issues.
Of particular concern for veterans who were exposed to burn pits are respiratory issues, such as constrictive bronchiolitis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and other issues. Veterans who are concerned about their exposure to burn pits can sign up for the Open Burn Pit Registry to receive a free health exam documenting their issues. They can also apply for veterans disability benefits if they have long-term health issues caused by their exposure to burn pits.
Compensation for Illnesses Caused by Burn Pit Exposure
Because there is not yet enough evidence to show the relationship between burn pit exposure and long-term health issues, the VA has not created any presumptive conditions for veterans exposed to burn pits. That means you will need to provide proof of your exposure, proof of your current disability, and proof of a medical link between your disability and your military service.
If your claim has been previously denied, get help from an experienced veterans law practitioner. Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick has over 25 years of experience helping veterans appeal their claims. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Category: Veterans Law