Study links long-term health risks with burn pit exposure in military veterans

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In a caller study published successful JAMA Network Open, researchers investigated nan nexus betwixt deployment long to subject bases that utilized unfastened pain pits and nan probability of being diagnosed pinch respiratory aliases cardiovascular diseases among veterans.

The study revealed that extended deployment to bases utilizing unfastened pain pits is linked to somewhat accrued likelihood of processing chronic obstructive pulmonary illness (COPD), asthma, ischemic stroke, and hypertension, suggesting imaginable adverse wellness outcomes linked to biology factors while serving successful nan military.

 Deployment to Military Bases With Open Burn Pits and Respiratory and Cardiovascular Disease. Senior Airman Julianne Showalter, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, Accessed 29 Apr. 2024.Study: Deployment to Military Bases With Open Burn Pits and Respiratory and Cardiovascular Disease. Senior Airman Julianne Showalter, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, Accessed 29 Apr. 2024.


The subject of nan United States has utilized unfastened pain pits for nan disposal of various materials, including medical, hazardous, and coagulated waste, during aggregate operations successful Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite restrictions imposed by nan Department of Defense (DOD) successful 2009 and efforts to adopt replacement discarded disposal methods, pain pits remained successful usage until much sustainable options were implemented.

Despite concerns raised by nan nationalist and veterans themselves, fewer studies person investigated nan lasting wellness effects of pain pit exposure.

While deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) has been linked to accrued respiratory illness risk, it is challenging to isolate nan effect of pain pit vulnerability owed to nan analyzable substance of emissions and different airborne contaminants encountered during subject service.

About nan study

This study aimed to measure really deployment to bases pinch unfastened pain pits impacts semipermanent cardiovascular and respiratory wellness outcomes among veterans.

The cohort study examined Air Force and Army veterans who deployed to OIF aliases OEF from 2001 to 2011 and enrolled pinch nan Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to person wellness attraction aft their deployment.

The study utilized declassified records of subject deployment linked to VHA wellness information to measure nan nexus betwixt deployment to bases utilizing unfastened pain pits and semipermanent cardiovascular and respiratory wellness outcomes among veterans.

A cohort of veterans gathering inclusion criteria was established, excluding Navy and Marine veterans owed to information unavailability and those pinch incomplete deployment records earlier 2005.

Burn pit vulnerability and deployment history were wished utilizing DOD records, pinch wellness outcomes assessed done healthcare records maintained by nan VHA up to 2020.

The study considered covariates, including obesity, smoking status, demographic factors, work branch, and income level.

Statistical study progressive multivariable logistic regressions to analyse associations betwixt pain pit vulnerability and illness outcomes, adjusting for covariates.

Sensitivity analyses addressed methodological concerns, including exclusions and imaginable sources of confounding.


The study included 459,381 Air Force and Army veterans deployed to OIF aliases OEF betwixt 2001 and 2011. Follow-up information were collected from nan VHA until nan extremity of 2020.

The cohort, predominantly antheral (87%) and racially divers (white veterans accounted for 67% of nan population), was, connected average, 31.6 years aged erstwhile they entered VHA care. Over 94% of nan veterans had a history of Army service.

Participants exhibited varied socioeconomic indicators, including precocious rates of obesity (34%) and cigaret smoking (43%).

Most cohort members (86%) had been deployed to bases pinch pain pits astatine slightest once, pinch a median vulnerability long of 244 days.

Analysis of nan narration betwixt nan long of pain pit vulnerability and various wellness outcomes showed a flimsy summation successful nan likelihood of asthma (1%) and COPD (4%) per 100 days of exposure, pinch humble dose-response associations crossed vulnerability tertiles.

Hypertension was besides associated pinch vulnerability to pain pits, pinch a flimsy elevation successful nan probability of ischemic changeable observed, though precision was limited. No associations were observed for interstitial lung disease.

Sensitivity analyses indicated minimal effect connected relation measures aft exclusions and adjustments for covariates.

Adjusting nan exemplary for nan deployment long accounted for astir of nan quality successful associations betwixt adjusted and unadjusted outcomes, isolated from for hypertension, which showed accrued relation only aft adjusting for each covariates.


The cohort study revealed that much prolonged periods of unfastened pain pit vulnerability were linked to flimsy increases successful COPD, hypertension, and asthma among veterans from OIF and OEF.

These associations were modest; however, fixed nan ample number of veterans who whitethorn beryllium perchance affected, nan authors reason that moreover flimsy elevations successful consequence should beryllium considered clinically significant.

Previous studies had limitations successful assessing pain pit vulnerability effects. This study, pinch a much extended median follow-up play of 10.9 years and a larger sample size, provided important insights.

Although limitations existed, including imaginable biases and deficiency of elaborate pain pit vulnerability data, these findings underline nan request for ongoing information of wellness risks linked to pain pit vulnerability among veterans.

These findings item nan value of considering imaginable semipermanent wellness impacts erstwhile providing healthcare and benefits to veterans and nan worth of declassified deployment information for researching military-related wellness outcomes.

Journal reference:

  • Deployment to subject bases pinch unfastened pain pits and respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Savitz, D.A., Woskie, S.R., Bello, A., Gaither, R., Gasper, J., Jiang, L., Rennix, C., Wellenius, G.A., Trivedi, A.N. JAMA Network Open (2024). doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.7629,