(November 5, 2013) -- One of the most dangerous hazards of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was a product of the US military, according to a new investigative report by The Verge's Katie Drummond.US soldiers have been coming home with respiratory issues that they say are a result of the noxious fumes spewing from burn pits on US Military bases.
However, Drummond contends that the military has long known that burn pits can harm health.The Department of Defense's 1978 waste-management guidelines cautioned against open-air burning and said that it should only be used "[when] there is no other alternative." Last year, Wired surfaced a 2011 Army memo by G.Michael Pratt, an environmental science engineering officer, that acknowledged the dangers of the pits: The long term health risk associated with air conditions on BAF from PM2.5 and PM10 indicates there is a potential that long term exposure at these levels may increase the risk for developing chronic health conditions such as reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, atherosclerosis, or other cardiopulmonary diseases.Harrison Jacobs / Business Insider & One of the most dangerous hazards of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was a product of the US military.Burn pits, many as large as 10 acres wide, are used extensively on military bases to incinerate trash, garbage and even body parts.
Breathing dust, fumes, and other toxic substances from burn pits has exposed troops and those who worked for government contractors abroad and other civilians, to a serious hazards.
Some of the chemicals were a very toxic carcinogens and are deadly.
There have been numerous news stories since 2008 detailing the dangers of burn pits and investigating their effects.
Over that time, military officials have resolutely denied any connection between the burn pits and soldiers' health concern.
The Department of Defense's position, unchanged since 2008, is that the pits "may cause temporary coughing and redness or stinging of the eyes" but that they "usually do not cause lasting health effects...." This is in contrast to reports from soldiers who have come back with asthma, chronic bronchitis, constrictive bronchiolitis, and, in some cases, terminal Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or Lou Gehrig's disease).
The pits were originally supposed to be a makeshift solution at the beginning of the war, until the bases became more established. Even as recent as this past July, incinerators in Afghanistan were still not being used.