What to Know: Symptoms and Side Effects of Burn Pit Exposure

Key Takeaways

Burn pits harm service members with hazardous materials.
Exposure to burn pits causes multiple health issues.
Exposed veterans should seek medical help and document health effects for VA benefits.
Burn pits used in various locations since 9/11 and 8/2/1990, among other places.
Burn pit exposure linked to respiratory, cancer, neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, reproductive, skin, and psychological disorders.
Service members exposed should inform healthcare providers.
Contact Wettermark Keith for VA appeal if denied burn pit benefits.

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What to Know: Symptoms and Side Effects of Burn Pit Exposure

Key Takeaways

Burn pits harm service members with hazardous materials.
Exposure to burn pits causes multiple health issues.
Exposed veterans should seek medical help and document health effects for VA benefits.
Burn pits used in various locations since 9/11 and 8/2/1990, among other places.
Burn pit exposure linked to respiratory, cancer, neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, reproductive, skin, and psychological disorders.
Service members exposed should inform healthcare providers.
Contact Wettermark Keith for VA appeal if denied burn pit benefits.

Veterans who experienced burned pits often signed up for the military to defend their country and protect their fellow citizens; yet, veterans were not protected from the very environment in which they were stationed. Sometimes it takes years for the implications of burn pits to take hold, but once they do, they drastically affect your daily life. Many veterans experience detrimental health conditions such as respiratory diseases, cancer, or reproductive disorders, all of which could also be genetically passed down to your children.  After losing friends, time with your family, and experiencing the traumas that come with war, it is frustrating being told that you now have a life-threatening disease from simply burning your waste at your station, as you were told to do. It is gut-wrenching to think of the pain and suffering that veterans must endure on a daily basis, all because of your service to our country, and it is unacceptable that so many veterans are left to suffer alone, without proper medical attention or support.

Exposure to burn pits during military service are linked to a variety of health problems. In this blog post, we will explore the symptoms and side effects of burn pit exposure, including respiratory diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, reproductive disorders, skin disorders, psychological disorders, and sleep disorders. It is important for service members who have been exposed to burn pits to be aware of these symptoms and health effects. Veterans need to seek medical attention promptly to prevent further complications, as well as have documentation of their adverse health to apply for the VA's veterans disability benefits in the future.

What are burn pits and who was exposed?

The military utilized burn pits to eliminate waste, such as plastics, chemicals, heavy metals, electronics, and human waste at their deployment sites. The burning of such materials created dense smoke and ash that dispersed throughout U.S. military bases and affected service members' health. The exposure to burn pits has resulted in numerous health issues for many service members, which can potentially develop into severe conditions.

If you completed your service in any of the below locations and during these time periods, then the VA considers you exposed to burn pits. These places and locations include:

Any of these locations on or after September 11, 2001:

Afghanistan

Djibouti

Egypt

Jordan

Lebanon

Syria

Uzbekistan

Yemen

Airspace in any of these locations

Any of these locations on or after August 2, 1990:

Bahrain

Iraq

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Saudi Arabia

Somalia

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Airspace in any of these locations

If you were not on active-duty in any of the locations or on the dates listed on this list, you still may have been exposed to burn pits during your time in service. If you are experiencing any symptoms of burn pit exposure, you must see a doctor immediately.

Symptoms of burn pit exposure

The symptoms of burn pit exposure definitely varies depending on the level and duration of the veteran's exposure, as well as individual health factors. There are, however, some common symptoms reported by service members who have been exposed to burn pit emissions. These include:

  1. Respiratory problems such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
  2. Eye irritation, including burning, redness, and watering.
  3. Skin rash, itching, and blisters.
  4. Headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
  5. Gastrointestinal problems like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  6. Fatigue and weakness.
  7. Joint pain and muscle aches.
  8. Difficulty sleeping and insomnia.
  9. Memory loss and cognitive impairment.
  10. Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

If you are a service member that has been exposed to burn pits and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. You need to let your healthcare provider know about your exposure history in order to receive the most comprehensive screenings and treatment for your exposure.

Conditions related to burn pit exposure

Exposure to burn pits is related to several health conditions. The most common include:

1. Respiratory diseases

Burn pit exposure can lead to various respiratory conditions due to inhalation of toxic chemicals and particles from the burn pits. Asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema are the most commonly reported respiratory diseases in veterans who have been exposed to burn pits.

2. Lung diseases

Exposure to burn pits has also been associated with lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiolitis obliterans (also known as "popcorn lung"). These conditions can cause irreversible damage to the lungs, leading to breathing difficulties and reduced lung function.

3. Cancer

Exposure to burn pits has been linked to an increased risk of various cancers, including lung cancer, throat cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, and breast cancer. The chemicals and particles released by burn pits can damage DNA and other cellular components, leading to mutations that can result in cancer.

4. Neurological disorders

Burn pit exposure has been associated with neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and peripheral neuropathy. The toxic chemicals and heavy metals released by burn pits can damage the nervous system, leading to various neurological symptoms.

5. Cardiovascular diseases

Burn pit exposure has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. The toxic chemicals and particles released by burn pits can damage blood vessels, leading to inflammation and atherosclerosis, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular events.

6. Gastrointestinal disorders

Exposure to burn pits has been associated with gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). These conditions can cause digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

7. Reproductive disorders

Exposure to burn pits has been linked to reduced fertility and an increased risk of birth defects in children. The chemicals and particles released by burn pits can affect reproductive hormones and lead to genetic mutations that can result in birth defects.

8. Skin disorders

Exposure to burn pits can cause skin disorders such as rashes, burns, and lesions. The toxic chemicals and particles can damage the skin and lead to allergic reactions and other skin problems.

9. Psychological disorders

Burn pit exposure can cause psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The stress of deployment and exposure to toxic environments can lead to mental health problems that can affect a person's quality of life.

10. Sleep disorders

Burn pit exposure can cause sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. The stress of deployment and exposure to toxic environments can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to sleep problems that can affect a person's health and well-being.

If you are a veteran experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible and let them know about your exposure to burn pits.

What substances are exposed by a burn pit?

As stated previously, the waste burned in burn pits released smoke and ash that contained a wide range of toxic chemicals that were detrimental to the soldiers posted in the surrounding areas that were exposed during their time at war. Some of the most common toxins and pollutants associated with burn pits include:

1. Particular Matter (PM)

This includes tiny particles of dust, soot, and other microscopic materials that can be inhaled, causing major respiratory problems.

2. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

These are toxic compounds that are released after wood, plastic, and rubber are burned.

3. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

These are chemicals released from a variety of materials, which includes solvents, paints, and other chemicals.

4. Dioxins

These are extremely toxic chemicals that are released when plastics, along with other synthetic materials, are burned.

5. Heavy Metals

These materials, including lead, mercury, and other metals, are released when electronics and other items containing heavy metal are burned.

If you were in the vicinity of any of the above materials being burned on a military site, then you have been exposed to highly dangerous toxins and may have a service-connected disability.

Can you claim burn pit symptoms on VA disability benefits?

Veterans who were exposed to burn pits during their military service and are experiencing health issues related to that exposure may file a claim for disability compensation with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). To file a claim for the effects of burn pit exposure, the service member must:

1. Gather relevant documentation

This may include military deployment orders, service medical records, and any other relevant medical documents.

2. Submit a claim

The service member should file a claim for disability compensation with the VA. This can be done online through the VA website, by mail, or in person at a VA regional office.

3. Complete a burn pit registry questionnaire

The VA maintains a Burn Pit Registry for service members who were potentially exposed to burn pits. When signing up, the service member will complete a questionnaire on the registry to document their exposure and any associated health problems.

4. Provide medical evidence

The service member should provide medical evidence that shows a link between their health problems and burn pit exposure.

Afterwards, the VA will review and evaluate the claim, the conditions, and the supporting evidence to determine if the service member is eligible for disability compensation based on their burn pit exposure. The process of receiving disability compensation through a VA claim is lengthy and often requires additional evidence or medical evaluations.

There are certain presumptive conditions that the VA automatically connects to burn pit exposure. If you have any of these, the VA presumes that they are related to your time in the service; therefore, if a veteran has a condition from the list of presumptive conditions and can show that they were exposed to certain hazards during their military service, the VA will provide disability compensation and other benefits to this veteran almost automatically. These conditions include:

Cancers:

Brain Cancer

Gastrointestinal cancer of any type

Head cancer of any type

Kidney cancer

Lymphomatic cancer of any type

Melanoma

Neck cancer of any type

Pancreatic cancer

Reproductive cancer of any type

Respiratory cancer of any type

Illnesses:

Asthma diagnosed post-service

Chronic bronchitis

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic rhinitis

Chronic sinusitis

Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis

Emphysema

Granulomatous disease

Interstitial lung disease (ILD)

Pleuritis

Pulmonary fibrosis

Sarcoidosis

If you apply for VA disability and are denied, do not hesitate to contact Wettermark Keith for our VA legal services. You can set up a free consultation with our legal team in order to begin the VA appeals process for your veterans benefits.

Wettermark Keith: Veterans Benefits Lawyers

When a veteran submits a VA disability claim in regard to their exposure to burn pits, there is a possibility that the application will be denied by the VA. That’s where Wettermark Keith can help. When you work with Wettermark Keith, you’ll have a team of knowledgeable individuals helping with your case, making sure that you don’t back down from getting your deserved VA toxic exposure benefits. Our VA Attorneys are accredited by the Veterans Administration to represent veterans in claims for benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs, and our only goal is to obtain the resources you need to live the rest of your life with comfort and support.
With offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee and Florida, Wettermark Keith has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. We have a diverse range of practice areas, including Veterans Affairs. We practice with care and compassion, making sure we understand your disability and convey that to the VA as best as we can. We do this by building strong relationships based on constant communication, trust, and a dedication to the truth. Caring for you is our goal, and winning is just how we show it. Contact us to set up your free consultation with an attorney at Wettermark Keith by calling us or contacting us through our online form.

Frequently Asked Questions

Burn pit victims may experience a range of respiratory and other health problems as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals released by burn pits, which are used to dispose of waste on military bases. Recovery from these health problems depends on the individual and the extent of their exposure. Some may experience long-term or permanent damage to their lungs, while others may recover fully with proper medical care and treatment. It is important for burn pit victims to seek medical attention and support to manage their symptoms and improve their overall health and well-being.

Exposure to burn pits, which are used to dispose of waste on military bases, can have long-term effects on the respiratory and other systems of the body. The toxic chemicals released by burn pits can cause a range of health problems, including chronic bronchitis, asthma, and other respiratory diseases. Long-term exposure may also increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer, as well as neurological and cardiovascular problems. Burn pit exposure has also been linked to reproductive and developmental problems. Additionally, many veterans who were exposed to burn pits report ongoing symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. It is important for those who have been exposed to burn pits to seek medical care and ongoing monitoring of their health.

Exposure to burn pits has been linked to a range of health problems, including respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. It has also been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, as well as other types of cancer such as bladder, kidney, and breast cancer. Neurological and cardiovascular problems have also been reported, including Parkinson's disease, stroke, and heart disease. Reproductive and developmental problems have been linked to burn pit exposure, including reduced fertility and birth defects. Additionally, many veterans who were exposed to burn pits report ongoing symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. It is important for those who have been exposed to burn pits to seek medical care and ongoing monitoring of their health.

The VA rating for burn pit exposure depends on the exact health condition or conditions that the veteran is experiencing and the severity. The VA uses a disability rating system that ranges from 0% to 100% in increments of 10%-- higher ratings indicating more severe disabilities. The disability rating assigned by the VA determines the amount of compensation the veteran is eligible to receive. Veterans with burn pit exposure-related health conditions can receive disability ratings ranging from 0% to 100% depending on the severity and impact on their life.

Burn pit exposure is not limited to exactly 23 conditions, however, the VA has listed the following as presumptive conditions: Gastrointestinal cancer of any type, Glioblastoma, head cancer of any type, kidney cancer, Lymphoma of any type, Melanoma, neck cancer of any type, Pancreatic cancer, reproductive cancer of any type, respiratory cancer of any type, Asthma diagnosed post-service, Chronic Bronchitis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Chronic Rhinitis, Chronic Sinusitis, Constrictive Bronchiolitis or Obliterative Bronchiolitis, Emphysema, Granulomatous Disease, Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD), Pleuritis, Pulmonary Fibrosis, and Sarcoidosis.

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