Thursday, March 25, 2010

VA Announces Some Infectious Diseases Associated With Gulf, Iraq & Afghanistan Exposures

The US Veterans Administration (VA) has announced that some diseases are presumptively related to military service exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Missing from the list yet are those disease associated with Burn Pit exposures.
The VA list includes:

-Brucellosis
-Campylobacter jejuni

-Coxiella burnetii (Q fever)-Malaria-Mycobacterium tuberculosis
-Nontyphoid Salmonella-Shigella
-Visceral leishmaniasis
-West Nile virus
The announcement was made in a 
press release from the VA. A final regulation will be published after the opportunity for comments are presented.  This announcement allows for eligibility for disability compensation.

Missing from the VA's list are diseases that have been reported by military veterans and contracts who have suffered from being exposed to the dust fumes and toxic air pollution from the the massive burn pits that were constructed by the major civilian contractors to the military. Those contractors include Halliburton and KRB. The massive burn pits, it has been alleged,  were utilized to unsafely dispose of combined toxic substance including: plastics, human body remains, medical waste, human waste and carcinogens such as asbestos, a known cause of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, and hexavalent chromium. Additionally it has been alleged that returning veterans and civilian contractor have also suffered: lung and throat cancers, blisters and deep ulcers, damage to the septum, skin allergy, asthma-like-allergy and kidney damage. Lawsuits have been filed seeking damages.

The VA's decision to list the diseases as related to exposures was based upon the 2006 report of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), entitled, "Gulf War and Health Volume 5: Infectious Diseases." Recently the Institute of Medicine (IOM) began health care studies concerning burn pit exposures.

The IOM plans to investigate:

"An IOM committee will determine the long term health effects of exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Using the Balad Burn Pit in Iraq as an example, the committee will examine existing literature that has detailed the types of substances burned in the pits and their by-products, and examine the feasibility and design issues for an epidemiologic study of veterans exposed to the Balad burn pit.

The committee will explore the background on the use of burn pits in the military. Areas of interest to the committee might include but are not limited to investigating:

-Where burn pits are located, what is typically burned, and what are the by-products of burning;
-The frequency of use of burn pits and average burn times; and
-Whether the materials being burned at Balad are unique or similar to burn pits located elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Click here to read more about burn pit exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan

Click here to read more about burn pit claims for benefits and lawsuits.