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Burn Pit Exposure Increasing Number of Lung Illnesses among Veterans

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New York, NY: The number of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans suffering from lung illnesses continues to increase, with many speculating that burn pit exposure is the major culprit, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

Burn Pit Exposure Increasing Number of Lung Illnesses among VeteransThe news source reports that Gary Durham, one such veteran, used to run cross-country as a youth and had no problem completing two-mile runs during Army basic training. However, after being deployed in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division in 2003, Durham says he has trouble finishing mowing the lawn without becoming breathless.

Durham is certainly not alone in his development of lung problems after being deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, as thousands of troops have reportedly come back complaining of symptoms such as wheezing, coughing and chest pain, according to the news source.

In fact, a 2009 Millennium Cohort Study discovered that 14 percent of troops that were deployed ultimately reported suffering new breathing issues, as opposed to 10 percent who had not been deployed, the news provider said. This means that since 2001, a minimum of 80,000 troops have developed new breathing problems during or after deployment.

"I'm concerned that this exposure is not getting the serious review it needs," chairman of medical sciences and biotechnology at the Center for Naval Warfare Studies Captain Mark Lyles, told the news source. Lyles has studied dust in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Scientists such as Lyles strongly believe that the environment in Iraq and Afghanistan is the major reason behind these new ailments for soldiers who are deployed. They mostly point to the regular dust storms, toxins and exposure to burn pits—which burn garbage at military bases —as the reasons behind the new lung problems.

Additionally, as Lyles pointed out, there is concern among one sect of the scientific community that there have not been enough steps taken to study the effects of burn pit exposure and the potentially lasting consequences this can have on those serving the US.

As a result of these lung issues, which have likely resulted from burn pit exposure, a number of lawsuits have been filed. These include one filed by a Georgia man who claims contractor KBR and Halliburton, its former parent company, were responsible for exposing soldiers at Joint Base Balad in Iraq to respiratory hazards from a burn pit, according to the Army Times.  

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