Troops who worked at burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those exposed to multiple dust storms during war-zone deployments, have higher rates of common respiratory illnesses like asthma and emphysema, as well as rare lung disorders, according to data drawn from the Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.
Service members who experienced frequent exposures to dust and burn pits also report increased health problems like insomnia and high blood pressure. But they don’t appear to have higher rates of cancer when compared with troops who deployed but had little or no such exposure, according to a new Department of Veterans Affairs report.
The findings, in a report posted online by VA in June, are based on questionnaires completed by more than 28,000 veterans.
According to the report, 30% of participants who said they were exposed to burn pits say they’ve been diagnosed with respiratory diseases other than allergies, with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis topping the list.
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