Study Launches to Examine Long-Term Health Effects of Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits 

June 15, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
Study Launches to Examine Long-Term Health Effects of Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits 
FILE - An Afghan National Army pickup truck passes parked U.S. armored military vehicles, as smoke rises from a fire in a trash burn pit at Forward Operating Base Caferetta Nawzad, Helmand province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 28, 2011. The Senate is expected to approve on Thursday a large expansion of health care and disability benefits for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan in response to concerns about their exposure to toxic burn pits. (AP Photo/Simon Klingert, File)

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System announced on June 7 that they will launch a study to examine if exposure to toxic burn pits can be linked to numerous health problems. 

The study will enroll more than 300 Arkansas veterans and assess whether the duration, frequency and intensity of exposure to burn pits correlates with levels of pollutants in blood and urine, DNA modifications and chronic health issues. 

The individuals will be recruited from a database of 6,800 veterans who are registered in the Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. 

The goal is to enroll 220 of the veterans who were exposed to burn pits while on Middle East deployments, and another 110 veterans who were not exposed. 



Burn pits are used to burn chemicals, medical and human waste, and other items like treated wood, often by using benzene-based jet fuel propellant, which is toxic to individuals exposed to the smoke.

Nearly 3.5 million service members were exposed to open burn pits used for waste disposal during military deployments in Southwest Asia since 1990, based on estimates from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense.

The launch of the study is occurring at a time in which Congress is moving on bills to expand medical coverage and services for veterans exposed to burn pits, such as the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act, or the Honoring our PACT Act.


The study launch also will help streamline the work of the larger DOD-funded study.

Alexa can be reached at [email protected]

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