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Military service members and private military contractors who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined toxic exposure class-action burn pit lawsuits in recent years after developing severe illness. Burn Pit Lawsuits have been filed against specific military contractors as well as the government for failing to protect veterans from preventable toxic exposure.

Thousands of veterans have claimed that they were made ill by the continual use of burn pits within bases and camps in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hazardous materials, some of which were not authorized to be burned—like tires, batteries, medical waste—were placed in burn pits, and placed veterans at an increased risk of neurological problems, cancers and other health issues.

Joe Lyon is an experienced Ohio Veteran Affairs lawyer and Toxic Tort Attorney reviewing burn pit lawsuits and VA injury allegations for plaintiffs nationwide.

What is a Burn Pit?

The military bases the United States maintained in Iraq and Afghanistan created a lot of waste. Huge quantities of unsorted waste, including hazardous waste, medical waste, and human waste, were burned in open-air pits at military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Exposure to the toxic fumes from burn pits is alleged to have caused service members and civilian contractors to suffer serious respiratory related injuries.

On some bases, veterans complained of a constant burning plastic smell lingering in the air. Some soldiers began coughing up dark material and were diagnosed with asthma and more serious respiratory illnesses.

In 2010, the Department of Defense banned burn pits and other improper waste disposal methods, but thousands of soldiers had already been exposed to toxins and may have developed chronic diseases and related cancers.

Cancers and certain kinds of tumors can be linked to breathing toxic fumes from burn pits and open fires on American military bases since 2001. Some VA advocates are calling burn pit exposure the new generation’s Agent Orange. As it stands, private companies cannot be held responsible for burn pit injury, though VA attorneys are still battling on behalf of injured veterans.

Many government officials have not denied that burn pits may be related to veteran cancer cases, though the evidence is still difficult to process on a large scale. Pentagon officials acknowledge that toxic substances from burn pit emissions may pose health risks.

Some doctors and oncologists, however, are certain of the link. Cases of lung cancer, unexplained malignancies, unexplained shortness of breath, and constrictive bronchiolitis, an incurable disease stemming from tiny particles lodged in the airways, are more and more common, and in veterans with no history of smoking.

Burn Pit Exposure Illness & Symptoms

Burn Pits are associated with an increased risk of asthma and emphysema as well as certain cancers and chronic diseases. Tissue samples from veterans lungs in many cases show evidence of constrictive bronchiolitis, a disease characterized by particles lodged in the airways, which doctors call “clearly inhalational.” Exposure to harmful toxins in Iraq and Afghanistan may result in the following symptoms:

  • Asthma
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chronic bronchitis (Bronchiolitis)
  • Chronic coughing
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nose bleeds
  • Pulmonary injury
  • Severe headache
  • Skin infection
  • Sleep apnea
  • Throat infections
  • Ulcers
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting

The Lyon Firm is also reviewing Agent Orange Compensation for Vietnam veterans and plaintiffs nationwide. 

Burn Pit Lawsuits: Iraq & Afghanistan Exposure

In Iraq:

  • Abu Ghraib Prison
  • Al Asad Air Base
  • Al Quo
  • Al Taqaddum (Ridgeway)
  • Ali Air Base (formerly Talil Air Base)
  • Al-Sahra aka Camp Speicher
  • Baghdad International Airport (BIAP)
  • Balad Air Base
  • Baqubah (FOB) (Warhorse)
  • Camp Adder, Talil Air Base
  • Camp Al Taji (Army Airfield)
  • Camp Anderson
  • Camp Ar Ramadi
  • Camp Bucca
  • Camp Cedar I and I, Talil Air Base
  • Camp Chesty
  • Camp Courage, Mosul
  • Camp Cropper
  • Camp (FOB) Delta, Al Kut
  • Camp Echo, Diwaynia
  • Camp Geiger
  • Camp Liberty (aka Camp Trashcan)
  • Camp Loyalty
  • Camp or LSA Anaconda
  • Camp Ridgeway (Al Taquaddum)
  • Camp Rustamiyah
  • Camp Scania
  • Camp Shield, Baghdad
  • Camp Speicher aka Al Sahra Airfield (formerly FOB)
  • Camp Stryker
  • Camp Victory
  • COB Meade, Camp Liberty
  • Diwaynia
  • Fallujah
  • FOB Caldwell, Kirkuk
  • FOB Endurance, Qayyarah Airfield West/Saddam Air Base
  • FOB Freedom, Kirkuk
  • FOB Gabe, Baqubah
  • FOB Marez, Mosul
  • FOB Summerall (Bayji and Taji)
  • FOB Sykes (Tall’ Afar)
  • FOB Warrior, Kirkuk
  • Green Zone or International Zone
  • Kalsu
  • Kirkuk
  • Kut Al Hayy Airbase
  • Mosul
  • Navstar
  • Q-West, Qayyarah Airfield West/Saddam Air Base
  • Scania
  • Taji
  • Talil Air Base (now is Ali Air Base)
  • Tall’ Afar

In Afghanistan:

  • Bagram Air Base
  • Camp Bastion Airfield
  • FOB Fenty, Jalalabad
  • FOB Orgun-East
  • FOB Salerno
  • FOB Sharana
  • Jalalabad
  • Kabul
  • Kandahar

Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans commonly claim injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, lost limbs and toxic exposure that can lead to various health issues in the future, including cancers and permanent respiratory conditions.

Burn pits were commonplace in Iraq and Afghanistan—burning a large number of toxic materials—and veterans on military bases near burn pits were forcibly exposed which directly led to injury.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been reluctant to honor VA burn pit disability benefits, though in recent months, lawmakers have been forced to deal with the serious health issue of thousands of veterans.

Burn pits were used to dispose trash and refuse in giant dumps ignited by gasoline and jet fuel. In the last twenty years, the Department of Veterans Affairs only granted around 2,300 VA burn pit disability claims, and the vast majority of toxic exposure injury claims have been rejected.

About 44 percent of VA burn pit disability claims have been denied because official diagnosis is difficult and sometimes impossible to directly link to a specific inhalation event. But since burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan were so common, like the one at Balad Air Base which burned 24 hours a day, it is becoming increasingly difficult to deny that burn pit exposure had no serious health effects on soldiers.

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(Hamilton County, Ohio): Confidential Settlement. Lead Counsel in a case that involved secondary lead exposure to two children. Their father worked at a local recycling plant that routinely recycled computer equipment. The company violated numerous OSHA regulations related to providing safety equipment and clothing to prevent lead particles from being transferred home. As a result, the Plaintiffs father transferred lead dust to his children who then suffered lead poisoning. The case was covered extensively by the Cincinnati news media and referenced in peer-reviewed medical literature. The settlement will provide educational needs to the children who suffered neurological injuries due the exposure.

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