Toxic Trash In Afghanistan Endanger Marines’ Health

Toxic trash in Afghanistan, burned in open-air pits by US military forces, may be endangering the lives of thousands individuals serving overseas.

It may be most common to think of the “health hazards” for US troops in Afghanistan to be flying bullets or hidden explosives. However, concern is growing over the health costs to troops from the noxious smoke produced from trash burning.

John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General For Afghanistan Reconstruction (or SIGAR), sent an “alert letter” Thursday to US Central Command’s General Lloyd Austin regarding these concerns, reports NBCNews.

Sopko wrote that the open-air burn pit located at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan because it could be endangering the health of 13,500 Marines, was a violation of Pentagon rules.

The Inspector General explained in the letter that the toxic trash pit in Afghanistan should be put out “as quickly as possible” because of the potential for “long-term health risks … including reduced lung function and exacerbated chronic illness.”

Despite the installation of four new incinerators on the base, costing a total $11.5 million, they have not been put to use, even though they allow for safe disposal of toxic trash, according to Washington Post.

Instead, in response to Inspector General Sopko’s letter, an US military official wrote back arguing that the burn pit was safe because it was closely monitored. The letter stated that there had been no complaints or health problems.

Some have come to call the use of open-air pits by US troops to be “this generation’s Agent Orange.” Advocacy groups have been tracking service members who have been affected by the toxic trash pits. One shows that at least 15 individuals developed terminal illnesses after serving next to trash burn pits in recent conflicts.

At the beginning of the year President Obama signed into law a registry of US service members made ill or left dead from exposure to the burn pits.

Do you think a disservice is being done to our men and women who have served and given so much — to survive the violence and come home — only to die slowly and painfully from a disease created by toxic trash in Afghanistan?

[Image via United States Marine Corps Official Page via photopin cc]