We’ve written before about the use of burn pits for waste disposal at military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan – a practice that may be exposing thousands of soldiers and civilians to carcinogens, respiratory irritants, and neurotoxins. The military has been slow to acknowledge the problems associated with burn pits, but the Salt Lake Tribune’s Matthew D. LaPlante reports that its approach is changing:
Backing away from steadfast official denial, the U.S. military’s senior health protection official said Monday that some service members might suffer long-term medical problems as a direct result of exposure to smoke and fumes from open-air burn pits scattered throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.
Craig Postlewaite, director of Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs, said that while scientific evidence has yet to prove the link, the personal stories of veterans coming forward to report long-term health problems have convinced him of the connection.
LaPlante also reports that legislation introduced last week by US Representative Tim Bishop would create a registry containing information on the thousands of troops exposed to various burn pits, and require reports to Congress on veterans’ illnesses that may be linked to burn-pit exposures.
In other news:
China Daily: More than 2,000 workers protested at the United Win Technology Co. Ltd over low pay and chemical exposures. Local authorities reported that 47 workers had been treated for hexane poisoning; a worker at the protest told reporters that four workers had died from hexane exposure.
MMWR: A new study reports that in the US between 1968 and 2006, a total of 22,625 years of potential life lost (YPPL) before age 65 are attributable to coal workers’ pneumoconiosis. Annual YPPL figures had been declining since the early 1970s, but began increasing again in 2002, which signals a need for stronger prevention efforts.
Bloomberg: Nineteen former workers are suing Exxon Mobil over their exposure to pipes that were contaminated with radioactive material. Company officials began acting to protect workers from radiation exposure in 1986, but the workers say the company was aware of the danger long before that.
Washington Post: In recent years, multiple whistleblowers tried to tell the Securities and Exchange Commission about potential wrongdoing – but the agency hasn’t acted quickly on several important tips, and has mishandled some cases.
The Oklahoman: Tanker truck driver Richard Basque, 52, was killed in an explosion while using a propane torch to thaw a frozen valve on his vehicle – a practice a county sheriff described as common among truck drivers.