Veterans Are Sick Because the Military Dumped Trash in Massive Burn Pits

Many American troops were injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars not by bombs or bullets, but by something seemingly innocuous: getting rid of trash. The American military dumped garbage -- human waste, dead animals, paper, plastic, electronics, batteries, asbestos, whatever — into huge pits and set it all on fire with jet fuel. The particles the burn pits spewed are causing lung problems for some troops, according to an investigative report by The Verge's Katie Drummond. This despite long-standing military policy and environmental recommendations to avoid using burn pits.

Movie-goers might remember the poop-burning scene from Jarhead, but these trash piles don't just consist of human waste, the Verge reports. Drummond explains, "The military’s burn pits emitted particulate matter laced with heavy metals and toxins -- like sulfur dioxide, arsenic, dioxins, and hydrochloric acid -- that are linked to serious health ailments." They sent black soot high into the air.

Needless to say, inhaling these airborne particles is bad for the lungs, as The Verge discovered in detail when speaking with several former soldiers. "I remember waking up with soot on me; you'd come out and barely see the sun because it was so dark from the smoke," said 28-year-old Air Force veteran Dan Meyer, who lived near an Afghanistan burn pit and now needs an oxygen tank to breathe. "We always called it 'black snow.'" That snow affected Le Roy Torres in Iraq, as well, when he was stationed next to Balad base's 10-acre wide burn pit. "It started with a cough. I was coughing up this gunk stuff, like black phlegm that kept coming and coming," he said. "The medical officer told me it was 'Iraqi crud' and it'd go away in a few days. I thought, 'I’ve been here a month, how much longer?'"

Read more on The Atlantic Wire

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.