Sunday, June 27, 2010

CBS Reports on the Hazards of Burn Pits in Iraq & Afghanistan

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CBS TV correspondent Jeff Glor reports, in a special report, that US soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed to toxic environmental smoke and fumes from burn pits. As a result of the exposures they now allege medical conditions including respiratory condition and malignancies (cancers). A lawsuit is presently pending on their behalf.

Glor reports, "The military authorized more than a hundred burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The largest were operated by private contractors Halliburton and KBR, designed to burn everything from military equipment to medical supplies, batteries and hazardous waste."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

American Lung Association Urges US Senate to Ban Burn Pits

The American Lung Association requested the US Senate to protect the health of American shoulders should be protected by banning the use of burn pits. The American Lung Association testified about urgent lung health issues facing military personnel and the Department of Defense. H. James Gooden, Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Lung Association, appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to urge that action be taken quickly to address the growing health threat posed by burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gooden also spoke to the importance of restoring an important lung cancer research program.

Gooden also spoke to the health threat posed by burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, after reports of soldiers who were exposed to them are now returning home with lung illnesses including asthma, chronic bronchitis and sleep apnea.

"The American Lung Association is deeply concerned by reports of the use of burn pits and the negative effects on lung health on soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan," Gooden testified. "Emissions from burning waste contain fine particulate matter, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. Emissions also contain chemicals that are known or suspected to be carcinogens. We urge the DoD to immediately find alternatives to this method of waste disposal," Gooden testified.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sleep Disorders Linked to Burn Pit Environmental Pollution

The Navy Times reports the causal connection between the exposure of US Troops to environmental pollution (open air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan) and resulting sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.  The study examined air pollution in Baghdad in combination with the high summer temperatures of 111 degrees.

“We found novel evidence for pollution and temperature effects on sleep-disordered breathing,” said Zanobetti, an author of the report “Increases in apnea or hypopnea were associated with increases in short-term temperature over all seasons, and with increases in particle pollution levels in the summer months.” The study was conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health.

The Navy Times reports a 600% increase in claims of sleep-disorder breathing by soldiers since 2000. The largest increase follows the initiation of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many returning soldiers have filed claims for Veteran's Administration benefits for sleep disorders based on their exposures.

The Harvard based research was based upon prior reports linking air pollution in seven major US cities with sleep disorder breathing. The previous study was published in a journal of the American Thoracic Society.

The current study was presented at the the 24th Annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies . "Results indicate that 86 percent of participants had sleep disturbances upon return from deployment and 45 days later even though the majority of them had no signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Soldiers were more likely to have sleep disturbances if they had a personal history of sleep problems, symptoms of physical illness or mild traumatic brain injury."

"This is the first study to describe the prevalence of sleep disturbances at two different time points in soldiers returning from deployment without any apparent physical trauma from blasts or amputation," said principal investigator Major Betty Garner, PhD, a nurse scientist in the Nursing Research Office at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany.  "The most surprising finding from this small preliminary sample was the extremely high percentage of sleep disturbances in soldiers even 45 days after they returned from wartime deployment back to the United States - the safe zone."

A lawsuit was filed alleging that KRB, Inc. (NYSE KRB) endangered the health and safety of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan by exposing them to huge quantities of toxic dust, fumes and other air pollution by burning unsorted was in vast open-air pits without any safety controls.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

House of Representatives Passes Burn Pit Registration Bill

Last week, the House of Representatives passed language directing the Secretary of Defense to provide a report on the feasibility of establishing an active registry for service members and veterans who have been exposed to occupational and environmental chemical hazards such as toxic burn pits. Passed as part of the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (FY11 NDAA), the language is based on HR 4477, the Military Personnel Toxic Exposure Registry Act, introduced by Bishop and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

A lawsuit is currently pending against Kellog Brown & Root (KBR) and Halliburton on behalf of soldiers who were exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report mandated in the FY11 NDAA the will discuss the processes by which service members exposed to toxic chemicals could be included in the registry and also procedures to provide medical examinations to service members eligible for inclusion in the registry. A significant number of the roughly two million service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed to these toxic burn pits, and hundreds of returning veterans are now displaying symptoms of illness.

"I fear we may have another Agent Orange situation developing with these burn pits," said Congressman Bishop. "Our troops deserve to know, and to be taken care of, if the burning of hazardous waste on our overseas bases has made them sick."

The FY11 NDAA makes record investments in America’s military, authorizing a $726 billion budget to further strengthen our national security, provide our brave men and women in uniform with the tools to do their jobs, and take care of service members and their families.

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. Call Jon L. Gelman at 973.696.7900 or e-mail