Many military and private contractors’ health is now deteriorating from burning garbage in massive burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan (Chiaramonte, 2018). Petroleum, oil, rubber, tires, plastic, Styrofoam, batteries, appliances, electrical equipment, pesticides, aerosol cans, explosives, casings, medical waste, and animal and human carcasses were among items burned in the pits (Walker, 2016). Worst cases of illness are being seen in soldiers and contractors who were near burn pits located “on or near documented chemical warfare sites, where chemical weapons were left over from Saddam Hussein’s rule.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden believes that proximity to burn pits caused his son, Beau Biden’s cancer that led to his death in 2015. After Beau returned home from his service in September 2009, he suffered a stroke and was shortly thereafter diagnosed with brain cancer.
Though Beau’s cancer cannot definitely be connected to the burn pits, The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers by Joseph Hickman suggests a link between illness and service and explores similar cases alongside with scientific studies and expert opinions. According to Hickman, burning hazardous materials on top of chemical weapons contributed to the many cases of soldiers that have developed respiratory issues and ultimately developed life-threatening diseases such as cancer.
Chiaramonte, P. (2018, February 15). Court Determines Military Burn Pits Caused Lung Disease in Troops. Retrieved February 26, 2018, from https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/02/15/court-determines-military-burn-pits-caused-lung-disease-troops.html
Walker, L. (2016, February 16). US military burn pits built on chemical weapons facilities tied to soldiers’ illness. Retrieved February 26, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/16/us-military-burn-pits-chemical-weapons-cancer-illness-iraq-afghanistan-veterans