Monday, February 10, 2020

Wars continue to poison

In a recent Chronicle article, “The Poison of war,” I covered the impact of Agent Orange exposure to our veterans during the Vietnam War. It was tremendous to have so many people contact me about the information I provided on our suffering and
America’s delays in responding to our illnesses and those of family members. Nearly all of whom spoke or wrote to me said they had no idea the impact of the poisoning to our military personnel and their families by Agent Orange.
During those conversations, I asked quite a few of them if they knew about the problems of burn pit exposures during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom impacting the health of veterans serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly every single person did not know about it, or knew very little. Therefore, I decided to write this article to inform everyone about burn pits and how they are impacting the health of today’s veterans.
What is a burn pit? Military sites used open-air fires to destroy their trash at locations in Iraq and Afghanistan, causing smoke and fumes to be inhaled by military personnel in the area at the large pits run by U.S. military and civilian contractors. Joint Base Balad, the largest U.S. base in Iraq and one of hundreds of U.S. bases in Afghanistan and Iraq where trash was burned in open pits for years, had a burn pit operation burning nearly 200 tons of waste per day. The base was churning out three times more garbage than Juneau, Alaska, which had a comparable population. JP4 jet fuel was a favorite trash igniter and it released clouds of benzene, a known carcinogen, while the smoke contamination consisted of plastics, batteries, appliances, medicine, and dead animals.

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