First Asbestos, Now Burn Pits – Our Veterans’ Fights Carry On

Recently, there has been an increase in coverage regarding toxic chemical reform, both domestically with bills such as the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as well as overseas with the growing burn pit movement.

The burn pit movement stems from concerns that veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are being exposed to dangerous toxins emitted from huge, open-air piles of burning trash. The materials burned in these pits on-base include harmful chemicals like plastics, liquid fuels, tires and batteries. As a result, many members of the military are developing serious health issues such as heart problems, chronic cardiovascular infections and lung cancer because they were regularly exposed to this toxic smoke.

While there are multiple studies underway investigating the effects of burn pit exposure, no policies are in place to ensure that troops are protected from these environmental problems and occupational hazards. In the meanwhile, we continue to hear of sad stories like the sudden passing of Sgt. Klayton Thomas due to a rare, unstoppable lung cancer after returning from service in Iraq.

To us, the parallels between the burn pit movement and Ban Asbestos Now! are strong and clear. Like with military asbestos exposure, many brave men and women are unknowingly being exposed to airborne carcinogens, and their lives are greatly impacted as a result. There is a need to take action on both fronts, but there is no plan or policies currently in place. Also, in both cases the long-term effects might be severe. It’s estimated that 30% of all current U.S. mesothelioma patients are military veterans, many of whom served decades ago since symptoms of mesothelioma may not emerge for decades. While the conditions associated with burn pit exposure develop much more quickly, the principle is the same: our heroes’ lives are being unnecessarily altered due to irresponsible companies and their handling of cancer-causing chemicals.

They fought for us, now let’s fight for them. Let’s take a moment to sign a letter and spread the word about BAN! to shed light on these problems both home and abroad.