Toxic Burn Pits Make Troops Sick
Nora Eisenberg, AlterNet:
"Two months in, everyone was coughing up black stuff. Three months, in my black stuff started to include blood."
Cancer, pulmonary disease, multiple sclerosis, sleep apnea, heart disease: Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans have suffered all these and more from toxic fumes spewing from burn pits on American bases. The Disabled American Veterans now has information on 182 sick veterans in a database developed by Assistant National Legislative director, Kerry Baker. Forty-eight have developed lymphoma, leukemia or other cancers; and 16 veterans in the database have died. And on March 30th, a group of seven lawmakers asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to attend to these findings as well the findings from an independent scientific consultant, which found a serious danger that veterans may become ill from burn pit fumes.
As early as 2006, the DoD had been informed by Air Force Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander Darrin Curtis that the pit was an acute health hazard. Though the Department of Defense has admitted that samples at the large burn pit at Balad contain Acetaldehyde, Acrolien, Arsenic, Benzene, Carbon Monoxide, Ethylbenzene, Formaldehyde, Hydrogen Cyanide, Hydrogen Fluoride, Phosgene, Sulfur Dioxide, Sulfuric Acid, Toluene, Trichloroethane, Xylene, and other chemicals, to date, it has insisted the pit presents no known dangers. The letter to Gates -- signed by Senators Russ Feingold, D-Wis.; Evan Bayh, D-Ind; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Representatives Tim Bishop, D-N.Y.; Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; John Hall, D-N.Y.; Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y.; and Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H. -- urged vigilance, citing the protracted and painful lessons from Agent Orange.
Rep. Bishop's office has developed a website in which veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan can tell their stories. In just a few days, many stories of negligence and suffering have emerged, adding to a tragic saga. [snip]
More first-hand reports from veterans can be found on the online Military Times.
Veterans who are suffering health problems they believe are connected to burn pit fumes should report their condition to Kerry Baker at 202-314-5229, to add to the database.