What Does it Mean to Be Exposed to Burn Pits?

The issue of burn pits at military bases has been a source of controversy for years now, as this form of waste disposal has been tied to serious environmental and health consequences. In particular, many veterans have been left with severe health problems resulting from burn pit exposure. But what does it mean to be exposed to burn pits, and how might that impact your ability to obtain veterans disability benefits?

What Are Burn Pits?

Essentially, burn pits are exactly what they sound like: large holes in the ground, exposed to the air, where various kinds of waste are dumped and then burned. This included a wide variety of different substances and chemicals, including chemicals, munitions, construction materials, medical waste, plastics, fuel, and just about anything else that can be reasonably burned. While this type of waste disposal is generally seen as primitive, it was used extensively by the military until it started to fall out of favor starting around 2009.

What Makes Burn Pits Dangerous?

Burn pits are dangerous because of the harm that people can experience if they breathe in smoke that emanates from them. Many of the substances that were disposed of in these pits create toxic byproducts when burned, and that is when it can be confirmed what was disposed of. In many cases, the exact nature of the substances in that smoke remains a mystery because the chemicals and materials that were disposed of are classified.

What Health Problems Are Associated With Burn Pits?

There are a number of health issues commonly associated with burn pit exposure. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Asthma (diagnosed after service).
  • Brain cancer.
  • Cancer of the mouth, larynx or trachea.
  • Chronic bronchitis.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis.
  • Chronic sinusitis.
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis.
  • Emphysema.
  • Lung cancer.
  • Lymphoma or lymphatic cancer.
  • Pleuritis.
  • Pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Reproductive cancer.
  • Sarcoidosis.

What Should You Do?

If you have a medical condition associated with burn pit exposure and you served in the military, you may be eligible for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, to know what options are available to you, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling veterans disability applications. They can help you go over your options and ensure you get the benefits you deserve.

The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.

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