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Veteran Burn Pit Exposure

Lawyers for American Vets
September 01, 2020


Burn pits were used as a way to dispose of and destroy waste at military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Examples of things burned were chemicals, paint, medical waste, human waste, metal/aluminum cans, munitions, other unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics, rubber, wood, and discarded food.  The VA maintains that high levels of dust and pollutants in the air already were just as dangerous or more.  However, these burn pits potentially facilitated the spread of other harmful airborne pollutants because they were out in the open.

Veterans could possibly have been exposed to burn pits while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation New Dawn since September 11, 2001. Those who were exposed for long periods of time to the burn pits may be at a greater risk.

Health Concerns:

The smoke from these burn pits contained toxins that may negatively affect the skin, eyes, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, gastrointestinal tract, and internal organs.  The list of medical conditions potentially connected to burn pit exposure includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Asthma
  • Breathing problems
  • Cancer (brain, lung, skin, leukemia, and lymphoma)
  • Chronic bronchiolitis
  • Headaches
  • Heart conditions
  • Pulmonary distress
  • Skin lesions
  • Sleep apnea
  • Ulcers
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting

Researchers are continuing to find evidence that creates a link between burn pit exposure and a number of illnesses.  To receive VA disability benefits for a condition related to burn pit exposure, a veteran must connect a condition to an event in military service.  Medical evidence and expert medical opinions can make it clear.  

Burn Pit Registry:

The VA recognized that there was a growing trend with burn pit exposure and related issues, and created the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.  This registry allows veterans to add their names to the registry to create a record of exposure and later diagnosed illnesses.

Adding a name to the Burn Pit Registry does not however initiate a VA disability compensation claim.  These are two separate things.  The registry was established as a way for the VA to track service members who were exposed and use this data to conduct research and draw conclusions regarding the burn pits’ impact on the health of Veterans and other service members.

Call the Lawyers for American Vets:

Because research is so limited in this field, obtaining service connection for burn pit exposure can be difficult.  Allow one of our skilled VA disability attorneys to assist you in your claims before the VA. Call now for a free consultation.