WASHINGTON — Veterans exposed to burn pits during their war deployments are backing legislation to create an ongoing registry of patients and illnesses believed connected to the toxic smoke, suggesting it may be the last chance to discover what long-term health problems they’ll face.
On Thursday, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., will introduce companion bills requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a burn pit registry, similar to past efforts tracking illnesses related to Agent Orange and Gulf War Illness.
The measures will not mandate new benefits or treatment for those veterans, but will establish a database of common symptoms for physicians to use in future research.
On Monday, the Institute of Medicine released a new report saying that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ respiratory problems may have more to do with poor air quality in those countries than the burn pits used by U.S. forces to dispose of trash, human waste and excess equipment.
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