Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cover up of soldiers illnesses

Update: Photo above of the burn pit

By Nora Eisenberg (AlterNet)
Six years into the war, many U.S. bases in Iraq are still without incinerators, leaving open pits spewing toxic plumes over soldiers and civilians.
Acetaldehyde, Acrolien, Arsenic, Benzene, Carbon Monoxide, Ethylbenzene, Formaldehyde, Hydrogen Cyanide, Hydrogen Fluoride, Phosgene, Sulfur Dioxide, Sulfuric Acid, Toluene, Trichloroethane, Xylene. These are just some of the chemicals detected in smoke from the Balad Burn Pit, one of the many vast open pits spewing toxic plumes over Iraq and Afghanistan.
But not to worry; In “Just the Facts,” an information sheet for troops, the Department of Defense has stated that “the potential short- and long-term risks” from Balad “were estimated to be low.” The VA has just announced it will monitor reports of veterans' pit-related illness. But the DoD has yet to declassify old air sample reports or issue current findings.
The Pentagon’s fact sheet appeared after linked to a memo showing that, as early as 2006, the DoD had known that the pit was “an acute health hazard.” In the memo, titled “Burn Pit Health Hazards,” Air Force Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander Darrin Curtis wrote to authorities that he found it “amazing that the burn pit has been able to operate without restrictions over the past few years without significant engineering controls being put in place.” In an accompanying memo, James R. Elliott, Chief of Air Force Aeromedical Services, concurred that the pit’s fumes contained “known carcinogens” and “respiratory sensitizers” that posed a “chronic and acute health hazard to our troops and the local population.
The rest of the article

I haven't worked with all of these chemicals and toxins but I can give you a brief rundown of most of them. I'll be keeping track of this situation.

Don't know the first two. Arsenic is a poison used to kill rats. It was also used as a wood preservative in the U.S. on things like power poles, fence posts and at one time spread under homes to prevent insects and rodents. Health effects central nervous system damage.
Benzene is a component of gasoline
Carbon monoxide we all know what that is. Poisoning causes the binding to blood cells making oxygen adsorbtion impossible in the body at high enough levels causes death.
Ethylbenzene another component of gasoline causing breathing problems.
Formaldehyde we all know of that from the FEMA trailers - again headaches and breathing problems.
Hydrogen Cyanide another chemical from burning - central nervous system damage.
Hydrogen Fluoride highly corrosive - lung damage.
Phosgene used as a gas weapon against an enemy causing blindness and lung damage.
Sulfur Dioxide when breathed in mixes with moisture in the lungs to cause sulfuric acid and you know what that does.
Sulfuric Acid highly corrosive to skin eyes nose and mouth and of course lungs.
Toluene another component of gasoline A know cancer causing agent.
Trichloroethane not formiliar with this.
Xylene corrosive chemical also part of gasoline used as paint stripper also cancer causing.

Now I can only imagine what they would burn in these pits. It could be anything from human waste to plastics to body parts, but if they didn't use a respirator and I'm almost certain they didn't because I know how the military works, then our guys are going to come home in a world of hurt.
And her's a little piece of advice for you. The next time you're pumping gas try standing upwind from the fumes or at least turn your head because you're breathing about half of this crap listed above in concentrated form especially on a hot day.

Keep your drums upright


MRMacrum said...

The military has always been cavalier with what they allow the troops to be exposed to.

Back in the 1970s when I was a mover, I often moved officers out of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. In one building on campus that was full of officers apartments, I had cause to empty a storage locker in the basement. They were located in one half of the basement. The other half was walled off with a huge rugged door on it. Several serious locks made sure no one would enter. On the door were the classic Haz/Mat signs indicating radioactive material was behind the door.

Tom Harper said...

I'm glad to see the Defense Department is so concerned about our troops, as always. Of course, if anybody speaks out against the Iraqi war they're "undermining" and "endangering" our troops. But getting contaminated with toxins -- no problem. It's all in a day's work.

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