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Military Burn Pits Associated with Increased Health Risk

April 29, 2024

Can deployment to military bases with open burn pits lead to an increased risk of chronic respiratory and cardiovascular conditions? In a recent cohort study, “Deployment to Military Bases With Open Burn Pits and Respiratory and Cardiovascular Disease,” researchers assess the potential association between the length of deployment to military bases with open burn pits and the risk of adverse health outcomes. Westat’s Joseph Gasper, PhD, was a co-investigator on the study.

Published in JAMA Network Open, the study analyzed medical records and declassified deployment records of over 450,000 veterans who were deployed between 2001 and 2011 and received care from the Veterans Health Administration, with a follow-up through December 2020. The findings suggest that extended exposure to open burn pits may increase the risk of developing asthma, congestive heart failure, and other chronic illnesses.

“This study provides new information about the health outcomes associated with burn pit exposure because of its large population size, ability to reconstruct detailed histories of deployment to bases with burn pits, and long-term follow-up using VHA medical records,” says Gasper.


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