Afghan 'Burn Pit' May Pose Long-Term Health Risks
A leaked Army memo directly contradicts the military's previous assurances that "burn pits, used to dispose of trash, are safe.
A recently leaked Army memo states that "burn pits" used to dispose of trash at military bases may pose long-term health risks to soldiers -- despite years of government denials. Wired.com reports that the memo states unequivocally that a burn pit at an Afghanistan base poses a risk of "long-term adverse health conditions" to the soldiers there.
The April 2011 memo claimed that the dust and burned waste from the pit at Bagram Airfield put soldiers at risk for "reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchits, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, atherosclerosis, or other cardiopulmonary diseases." The memo also stated that exposed soldiers may be at risk for long-term pulmonary and heart conditions, Wired reported.
The memo directly contradicts the military's official line. According to Wired, thousands of soldiers over the years have sufferd respiratory complaints they associated with their overseas service. However, the military has insisted for years that the burn pits were safe. Another memo from 2008, reporting on the burn pit at Iraq's Balad Air Base, claimed that there were "no significant short- or long-term health risks and no elevated cancer risks" associated with the pit. And a 2004 Pentagon fact sheet told troops that the burn pit at Bagram "should not cause any long-term health effects," Wired reported.
Has the Pentagon willfully ignored the potential dangers? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
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