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VA expands list of burn pit exposure conditions

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2021 | Veterans' Benefits

Veterans in Florida may suffer long-term health damage as a result of their exposure to open burn pits, where trash, waste and chemical and electronic debris were burned outdoors in open pits. The veterans who worked near or were responsible for these burn pits, which were used extensively during the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, and other U.S. military interventions in Syria, Djibouti and elsewhere in the Arab region, have experienced a number of serious side effects and long-term illnesses. The Veterans Affairs Administration has released an updated list of presumptive conditions entitling veterans to benefits if they experienced them within 10 years of their separation.

Asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis

The newly added presumptive conditions are asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis, and they can indicate eligibility for VA benefits for veterans who served in Southwest Asia at any time since August 1990 or in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria and Uzbekistan from September 2001. These are not the only three conditions linked to burning pit exposure; some veterans have developed cancer, autoimmune diseases and a wide range of lung disorders after their exposure to burn pits. Burn pit exposure has been linked to both short-term and long-term effects on veterans’ health.

The registry aims to collect data

The Department of Veterans Affairs opened an Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry for veterans to add their information to help the agency learn more about the effects of airborne exposure. As a result of the changes to the list of presumptive conditions, veterans with disabilities caused by their exposure to airborne toxins may have an easier process obtaining veterans’ benefits for their disability.

In general, people applying for disability benefits from the VA must show that their exposure to burn pits was at least as likely as not to cause their medical issues. Veterans with these conditions who already have pending claims do not need to change their applications in order to proceed.