Burn Pits Focus of House Legislation

NGAUS Washington Report
May 8, 2018

Service members who served near burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere would have that fact noted in their health assessments and included in their records when they leave the military under legislation now in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., introduced the Burn Pits Accountability Act last week.

More than 140,000 service members have reported exposure to burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals over the past three decades, according to a statement released by the lawmakers when the bill was introduced. Serious and potentially life-threatening health effects, including cancers, neurological disorders, lung diseases and more, have been linked to the burn pits, where everything from plastic water bottles to human waste was burned, sending fumes across bases where troops and civilians worked and lived.

Gabbard, an Hawaii Guardsman and Iraq veteran, said, “Some veterans who I deployed with are now falling sick with cancer and other illnesses. But there is no research and data about exposure to burn pits and other toxic chemicals and how they have impacted the health and well-being of our servicemembers and their families.”

Mast, a former Army explosive-ordnance technician who was severely wounded in Afghanistan, said, “I think it is quickly becoming clear that these burn pits are emerging as the Agent Orange of my generation.” Agent Orange was a defoliant sprayed on the jungles of Vietnam during the war and considered the cause of many health problems of that war’s veterans.