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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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