Friday, September 11, 2015

The Burn Pits Registry and 2015 VA Report

In June, the VA released an update on their research of conditions potentially related to Burn Pit exposure; you can read it here:
For those unfamiliar with the term, Burn Pits refers to open-air burning of plastics, medical waste, and trash – sometimes creating fumes that some scientists say are new, unique compounds that may be toxic to humans.  Not every respiratory problem is related to the Burn Pits, but a recent report provides new information based on the VA Burn Pit Registry and continuing research. 
An important note:  if you were deployed and exposed to one of many of the Burn Pits in Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s important to join the Burn Pit Registry at the VA and to be evaluated.  If you’re unsure and have questions, you can contact the Environmental Health Coordinator at your treating VA medical center, or call 877-222-8387. 
VA Blog Photo
Higher concern rose in 2008 when a greater than expected rate of respiratory conditions and symptoms were noted from serving troops exposed to fumes in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Frequent exposure to the foreign dust storms and the unusually small sand particles also appear to be increasing common illnesses among previously deployed troops and include asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and COPD or (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). At first, this was discussed among troops, not widely accepted at the medical level, but it wasn’t long until the potential number of veterans affected reached a critical mass with media coverage. 
In a new study released in July, 28,000 veterans who completed the questions in the Burn Pit Registry, also noted additional health effects such as higher blood pressure and insomnia, though it’s often difficult to isolate those symptoms from other conditions.  Current findings are that about 30% of veterans have been diagnosed with respiratory conditions other than allergies and include quality of life issues including a reduced ability to run, walk stairs, or continue their prior physical activities. Almost 46,000 veterans have responded to the lengthy questionnaire.

If you know a veteran who served in the following conflicts and times, and who was repeatedly exposed to burn pit fumes or multiple dust storms with possibly related respiratory conditions, please urge them to join the VA Burn Pit Registry to assist in this research and analysis. 
·        Operations OEF/OIF/New Dawn
·        Djibouti, Africa on or after September 11, 2001
·        Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm
·        Southwest Asia theatre of operations on or after August 2, 1990

The Burn Pit Registry is found on the website (, you can speak to the Environmental Health Coordinator at your nearest VA facility, or call 877-222-8387 for more information.
Linda Kreter and the
VeteranCaregiver Team