According to a study conducted by the VA, the majority of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were exposed to conditions that could result in future respiratory disease.

Both groups had high rates of potentially hazardous respiratory exposures: dust and sand, burning trash, petrochemical fumes, oil fires, or industrial pollution. At least one of these exposures was reported by 95 percent of deployed veterans and 70 percent of non-deployed veterans. High exposure (at least three out of five) was reported by 70 percent of deployed and 24 percent of non-deployed veterans.

Veterans with any respiratory exposure were more likely to have asthma, sinusitis, or bronchitis. At least one of these respiratory diseases was reported by 23 percent of deployed and 28 percent of non-deployed veterans with any respiratory exposure. There was evidence of a “dose-response” relationship—veterans with more exposures had higher odds of respiratory disease. The associations remained significant after accounting for smoking.