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There is currently no specific medical test for burn pit exposure. However, your doctor can evaluate you based on your individual health conditions and opine on whether those conditions are related to burn pit exposure. If you seek VA disability benefits for medical conditions due to burn pit exposure, a medical exam can highlight the symptoms you’re experiencing and the way they’ve impacted your life.

As a veteran, you are entitled to a free VA medical exam if you believe you were exposed to burn pits and have resulting complications. The first step is to sign up for the Burn Pit Registry. From there you can schedule the exam by contacting an environmental health coordinator near you, who can connect you to a participating doctor.

The Possible Health Effects of Burn Pit Exposure

Exposure to the toxic smoke produced by burn pits can lead to a number of health problems. These health issues are varied, affecting several different body systems and functions. Because burn pits produce such a diverse range of health problems, it’s difficult to test for exposure with a single, one-size-fits-all screening. Instead, your doctor will sit down with you, discuss your symptoms, and then order testing to get to the root cause of these issues.

Exposure to burn pits is extremely dangerous as the following items are frequently incinerated:

  • Human waste
  • Medical waste
  • Plastics
  • Paint
  • Rubber
  • Wood
  • Aluminum cans
  • Rotten food
  • Petroleum
  • Lubricants
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Styrofoam
  • Ammunition
  • Unexploded ordnances

In a burn pit, these items along with others are incinerated, creating a massive fire sending billows of thick, black, rancid smoke into the air. The dry desert winds often carry these smoke clouds miles in all directions, thus, impacting more than just those close to the fire.

From the moment you inhale burn pit smoke into your lungs, your body may react in various ways. The most common immediate effects of burn pit smoke exposure include:

  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Eye burning and irritation
  • Skin rashes
  • Skin irritation

For most people, these effects begin to subside when the air clears. However, many of the toxins you inhaled can remain in your body for long periods of time. You may suffer lingering health effects, such as:

  • Skin conditions
  • Eye problems
  • Respiratory infections and ailments
  • Cardiovascular ailments
  • Gastrointestinal distress

If the discomfort you suffered while breathing in smoke from a burn pit has not subsided within 24 to 48 hours, it’s best to get yourself examined by a VA doctor in case you have any lasting effects needing to be addressed.

Long-Term Health Effects of Burn Pit Smoke Exposure

Several studies have linked burn pit smoke exposure to long-term health problems. To date, though, none of these studies have been able to establish a definitive cause-and-effect relationship between burn pits and long-term illness.

A few of the long-term health conditions being studied in the context of burn pit exposure include:

  • Reduced lung function
  • Cancer
  • Circulatory diseases
  • Neurological diseases
  • Reproductive issues
  • Developmental delays

Since these issues are so varied, a single test cannot screen for them. Instead, when you meet with a VA doctor about your concerns, you can discuss your symptoms in detail. This allows the doctor to determine which tests can get to the root cause of your condition.

The Burn Pit Registry and Health Exam

Although signing up for the Burn Pit Registry does not guarantee entitlement to VA disability benefits, it’s an important step towards establishing yourself as someone who was exposed. As of 2018, more than 157,000 veterans have added their names. By adding your name to this registry, you get a free medical exam.

This medical exam may help you find a solution to your health problems and provide the evidence you need to apply for and receive VA disability benefits. The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently evaluates illnesses associated with burn pit exposure on a case-by-case basis. The stronger your evidence, the more likely your case is to succeed.

For a Free VA Disability Case Evaluation, Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD at 800-544-9144

The VA disability lawyers at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD may be able to help you apply for and receive disability benefits for conditions due to burn pit exposure. Our team offers a free consultation to all disabled veterans. To start the process today, call our office at 800-544-9144.

« Return to the Veterans' Resource Center

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