December 14, 2020

Soldiers First: Proposed Burn Pit Legislation Would Remove Barrier to Veterans' Care

By Carina L. Roselli, JD, MEM, CLR Law, PLLC, Woodbridge, VA

Introduction

In 2009, in a press conference on proposed burn pit legislation, public health consulting firm Epidemiology International stated that burning solid waste such as plastic, metal, oil, fuel, and human waste “generates some of the most harmful chemicals known to man, and represents an unacceptable health risk.”1 Its official statement referenced chemicals such as dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds such as benzene and vinyl chloride.2 The firm noted that burn pit smoke contains particulate matter (PM) that absorbs these chemicals, making them capable of deep inhalation into the lungs and transport to other body tissues.3 Epidemiology International concluded its remarks by declaring, “[t]here is irrefutable evidence that there are serious and dangerous health risks associated with exposure to the by-products of waste burning, particularly if the wastes are burned in open burn pits with no emissions controls.”4  

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