Military burn pits have been around since the beginning of the Iraq War. The U.S. Military used them to incinerate everything from human and medical waste to plastics and metal. Unfortunately, this resulted in widespread exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals for military personnel. If you or a loved one were harmed by military burn pit exposure, it is vital to understand your legal options.
What Are Military Burn Pits?
Military burn pits are large, open-air incinerators used to burn waste materials, and they have been used since the beginning of the Iraq War.
Some of the materials burned in military burn pits include:
- Human waste
- Medical waste
On military bases (including Balad Air Force Base in Iraq and Bagram Airfield Base in Afghanistan), highly toxic chemicals, plastic bottles, paints, and unexploded ordnance were routinely burned in open pits.
As a result, many military members who lived or worked on or near those and other bases are developing serious health problems because they were exposed to toxic smoke.
Military Burn Pit Exposure
Military burn pits are toxic because they release chemicals and fumes into the air, which can cause long-term health problems. Many service members and military contractors were exposed to these open-air burn pits.
The fumes and chemicals released by military burn pit exposure include:
- Dioxins & Furans
- Particulate Matter (PM)
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Because of potential health hazards, such as cancer, respiratory problems, skin lesions, and infections, burning waste as a means of disposal has been curtailed in the United States.
Between 2007 and 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approved disability claims related to burn-pit exposure for 2,828 veterans out of 12,582, according to Laurine Carson, deputy executive director of policy and procedures for VA.
This means that they denied nearly 78% of all VA benefits claims. It’s a result of this that the PACT Act focused on expanding health care and compensation.
Military Burn Pit U.S. Supreme Court Case
In June of 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Le Roy Torres of Texas in a 5-4 vote, which stipulated that veterans harmed by burn pits could not be discriminated against.
Financial Compensation for Victims of Military Burn Pits
The opportunity for veterans to receive various VA benefits is the result of the PACT Act Passed by the Senate.
The Pact Act, passed by Congress and soon to be signed by President Biden, adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for toxic burn pits and other toxic exposures.
Gulf War Era and Post-9/11 Veteran Eligibility
The VA has added more than 20 burn pit and other toxic exposure presumptive conditions based on the PACT Act. This change expands benefits for Gulf War era and post-9/11 Veterans.
List of Presumptive Burn Pit Cancers (per the PACT Act)
These cancers are now presumptive:
- Brain cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
- Head cancer of any type
- Kidney cancer
- Lymphatic cancer of any type
- Lymphoma of any type
- Neck cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Reproductive cancer of any type
- Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type
List of Presumptive Burn Pit Illnesses (per the PACT Act)
These illnesses are now presumptive:
- Asthma that was diagnosed after service
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic rhinitis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
- Granulomatous disease
- Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
If you served in any of these locations and time periods, the VA identifies that you had exposure to burn pits or other toxins, and they call this having a presumption of exposure.
Timeframe and Locations Where Burn Pit Exposure Occurred
On or after September 11, 2001, in any of these locations:
- The airspace above any of these locations
On or after August 2, 1990, in any of these locations:
- Saudi Arabia
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- The airspace above any of these locations
How a Military Burn Pit Lawyer Can Help
Sokolove Law has more than 40 years of experience, and our law firm has HELPED many U.S. military veterans suffering from toxic exposure. Our team knows who to talk to, where to find answers, and what steps you need to take. Let us put more than 40 years of experience to work for you.
The recently passed PACT Act provides compensation options for military veterans who developed health issues due to exposure to these burn pits.