Tuesday, November 8, 2011
What’s Choking U.S. Troops?
I am sorry but standing around and breathing in the fumes from burning plastic is not a good idea. Most likely the troops are getting a touch of asthma from the irritated lungs. It also takes time for the condition to clear up.
Along with the dusty environment, it is unsurprising that the soldiers have developed persistent problems, not unlike chronic smoker’s lung. Some are better able to handle the problem but plenty are been badly impacted.
This is also a reminder of the negative effects of smog.
The great news it that the next decade will see the removal of petroleum based transportation from our roads in favor of electric vehicles. This will see a restoration of air quality everywhere and nothing could be more welcome.
Everyone knows what the problem is and just do not want to trouble themselves with the difficulty of fixing it if it can be fixed at all.
Troops? Feds Have No Idea U.S.
October 31, 2011 |
4:55 pm |
In a 2010 study of 80 soldiers who struggled to run two miles, half of them were huffing and puffing because of undiagnosed bronchiolitis.
And the feds have no idea why.
The military’s widespread use of open-air burn pits — massive heaps of Styrofoam, human waste and plastic water bottles, in flames around the clock — seemed to be the most obvious answer.
But results of a study published today by the
and commissioned by the Department of Veterans Affairs, are frustratingly
inconclusive — largely because the military didn’t collect adequate data for
researchers to do their jobs. Institute of Medicine
The team set out to determine whether the burn pits used to incinerate waste at military bases in
were culpable for the increased prevalence of respiratory, cardiovascular and
neurological ailments afflicting recent veterans. But what they know after all
that research is essentially what they knew at the study’s outset. First, that
more and more troops are complaining of chronic health problems. And second,
that the air quality in both combat zones was pretty awful to begin with. Afghanistan
Since 2001, cardiovascular problems among military personnel have soared from 65,520 to 91,013 in 2010. Neurological conditions have more than tripled, going from 9,688 to 32,667.
Some troops are so sure that burn pits caused their illnesses, they’ve already sued the contractors responsible for them: Close to 1,000 are currently in litigation against megaliths KBR and Halliburton, which were charged with overseeing some pits.
But burn pits aren’t the only suspect: With dust storms a common occurrence, soldiers spent plenty of time choking on cloudy air in
Iraq and , which the report notes
might be enough to cause “long-term health effects.” Not to mention that much
of the dust was laden with neurotoxic elements, including chromium and
Researchers studied air samples collected by military officials at Joint Base Balad between 2007 and 2009. They detected 51 chemicals and a plethora of particulate matter (caused by, for example, dust and exhaust fumes). The toxins and particulates found in the samples have been linked to, among others, the following health problems: Cardiovascular disease, asthma, adrenal, liver and kidney failure, birth defects, cancer, anemia and decreased function of the central nervous system.
“The air in the areas tested contained more pollutants — sometimes much more — than
air standards,” Dr. David Tollerud, lead researcher on the study, told
reporters. “What they inhaled was comparable to that of very polluted urban
environments around the world.” U.S.
In other words, troops were living in an environment akin to the heart of
Mexico City — if was also burning heaps of
synthetic goods and human waste adjacent to residential areas and workplaces.
So troops should worry about illness. But is the risk reserved for those who
worked close to a burn pit? That question’s a little tougher to answer. Mexico City
“We can’t dismiss the potential of the burn pits themselves as being the cause of health effects,” Dr. Tollerud, who was also a key researcher in establishing Agent Orange’s health threats, said. “But exhaust from automobiles, jet emissions, and other pollution, not to mention dust storms, could also be involved.”
That said, the air samples did contain dioxins, the same chemicals found in Agent Orange, the herbicide now blamed for widespread illness among
And much like Agent Orange — which the VA only this past year acknowledged as the culprit for veteran’s health problems — it seems the confusion surrounding this generation’s long-term health conditions will take decades to resolve — if it ever is.
The report notes that researchers were hampered by “a lack of data” collected by the Department of Defense. Nobody kept track of what was burned, when, how much, or in what proximity to soldiers. And now that the military has shut down all of the open-air pits in
, getting relevant air samples
is impossible. Iraq
Despite this dearth of data, the military somehow managed to release two of their own reports on air quality earlier in the decade, and both concluded that any health risks from burn pits fell within an “acceptable” range.
The IOM committee isn’t so sure: They’ve suggested another, long-term study that follows troops — especially those who’d been deployed at Balad — and tracks incidence of respiratory problems, neurological impairment and cancer, which often develops later in life. In other words, soldiers will just have to wait until they get sick to help scientists figure out why.