Burn Pits and Post-Iraq Lung Disease

Apr 28, 2014, 14:48 PM
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Since 2001, over 2 million United States military men and women have deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In the past few years, evidence has emerged that U.S. military personnel who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan may be at increased risk for developing lung symptoms and, in some cases, disabling chronic lung diseases including asthma, constrictive bronchiolitis and based on information presented at the American Thoracic Society in 2012 a fibrotic lung disease similar to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

These conditions can cause tremendous individual suffering and cost the nation billions of dollars in lost wages, veterans benefits compensation and health care costs. Suspected causes are environmental exposures to garbage burn pits, dust storms, industrial emissions and fires. The long-term health consequences of these exposures remain largely unidentified, and current treatment options are limited and often rely on standard clinical practices that may not be optimal for these disabled soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, who were fit and vigorous before deployment.

The recent report of a soldier requiring a double lung transplant for end stage lung disease following his deployment in Iraq is quite concerning. We urge the military to move forward to support additional research on the risks from inhalational exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan, including hazards from burn pit smoke, desert dusts, local polluting industries and IED blasts. We also strongly support the creation of Centers of Excellence in deployment related lung disease where affected military men and women can go to get comprehensive evaluation and treatment. If you or a family member has been deployed and experiencing respiratory symptoms we recommend you contact the Center of Excellence on Deployment-Related Lung Disease at National Jewish Health or the US Department of Veterans Affairs, War Related Illness and Injury Study Center.

For additional information on Deployment-Related Lung Disease:

National Jewish Health – Deployment Related Lung Disease

US Department of Veterans’ Affairs - War Related Illness and Injury Study Center

Vet's post-Iraq lung disease fuels burn pit discussion
Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Will Thompson came back with severe lung complications

Sunday, February 09, 2014
By Brandi Underwood
The Register-Herald

Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Will Thompson, of Princeton, did not understand what was happening to him when he came home from his second tour of Iraq and was experiencing severe breathing problems. . . .

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