Illnesses Caused by Burn Pit Exposure

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Men and women working overseas on US military bases may have been exposed to burn pits which resulted in various illnesses. An illness that significantly impacts your daily life means that you are eligible for compensation under the defense base act. Experienced dba attorneys understand the difficulty you or your loved one may be going through and know how to handle these claims.

Exposure to Military Burn Pits Could Have Terrible Consequences

The use of military burn pits has had terrible impacts on many veterans and civilian contractors. Those directly exposed to the toxic fumes regularly have reported long-term medical illnesses. These terrible consequences have varied from person to person but have recorded varying degrees of harm to health. 



The massive burn pits exposed workers to toxic fumes and particles. The exposure has significant damage to different systems of the human body. Moreover, research by the department of defense further solidified many veterans’ claims. The department found harmful and toxic particles that have terrible consequences on the human body. 

What Was Put into Burn Pits?

Nearly everything and anything could be put into the burn pits. The burn pits were used as a waste disposal site. This included burning medical waste, petroleum waste, plastics, rubber, human waste, and even harmful chemicals. Amongst a few of the most harmful items that were burned were: 

  • Toxic chemicals
  • Ammunition
  • Unexploded ordnances
  • Paint
  • Medical waste

Known Illnesses Caused by Burn Pits

The burning of countless objects and items in the burn pits resulted in the release of thick smoke into the open air. This resulted in workers’ indirect inhalation of toxic fumes in close proximity to the burn pit sites. The inhalation and contact with the fumes cause many illnesses that have been described below.  


Cancer is a major problem reported by veterans and contractors. Cancer can develop in any part of the body. Not only is the treatment long, expensive and painful. But it also disrupts the no. of hours a person can work each week. Continuous doctor appointments and weakness creates many obstacles for a patient to live a normal life. 

Skin Problems

Problems such as rashes and irritations are commonly reported as a result of burn pit exposure. Most cases of skin problems are short-term, except for the case of skin cancer which can have lasting implications. Skin problems can lead to a patient using specific medicine and ointments for the rest of their life. 


The smoke and fumes inhaled by a federal contractor can cause asthma and breathing problems. This can be an issue if the patient finds it difficult to breathe. It can also result in the patient using inhalers and medication for the rest of their life.


Bronchitis is a short-term problem that can last up to 8 weeks. The illness can cause cough and a sore throat, including the development of mucus. In many cases, exposure to thick smoke from burn pits has had patients develop chronic bronchitis. This type of illness is more severe and can last much longer. 


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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that results in the blockage of the air passage while sleeping. This can be due to swollen soft tissues and tongue and throat muscles. Most commonly, this has been reported by contractors with prolonged exposure to fumes and toxic smoke. Severe cases of sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and even heart problems. 

Respiratory Problems

Problems associated with breathing are common when exposed to burn pits. These problems can include varying degrees of asthma and bronchitis. It can also include Lung disease and lung cancer.

Pulmonary Conditions

A wide range of diseases and illnesses can be caused due to fumes that can be categorized as pulmonary conditions. This can include problems associated with breathing and the lungs, along with additional illnesses such as pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis. 

Cardiovascular Problems

The exposure can also cause rare health conditions that are known as cardiovascular diseases. This can include the heart or blood vessels being affected. 


Extreme headaches can result in the patient being sensitive to lights and sound. This can make common everyday chores difficult and force the person to rely on medication. 

Neurological Conditions

Multiple cases of burn pit exposure have reported cases of stroke and peripheral neuropathy. While at the same time, many have reported Parkinson’s disease as an outcome of prolonged exposure. 

Common Symptoms of Burn Pit Exposure

Open-air burn pit exposure can have devastating long-term effects on the human body. However, several common symptoms can be noticed before the long-term effects are assessed. The burning of many items that were hazardous or toxic in nature meant danger for those around the pits. The involuntary inhalation of toxic fumes and contact with thick smoke resulted in common symptoms such as: 

  • Itchy skin
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Rashes
  • Burning throat
  • Cough
  • Red eyes or irritation

Burn Pits and Cancer

Perhaps the biggest concern for contractors was the immediate danger of being diagnosed with cancer due to burn pits. Multiple factors go into deciding whether exposure to fumes and smoke can cause cancer or not. These factors were;

  • Duration of exposure
  • Type of waste
  • Toxicity of waste

However, despite the indirect assessments based on the points above, people have reported cancer cases. Many organizations, such as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the US National Toxicology Program (NTP), have all provided a similar consensus. Each of the organizations has clarified that the burn pits contained particles that can cause cancer. 

However, the data currently available is not enough to create a link between cancer and burn pits. Rather it has been deemed unlikely that burn pit victims have cancer due to the fumes. In some cases, the cancerous particles may develop cancer later on in life. 

Contact an Attorney For Help with a Burn Pit Exposure Claim

If you have faced major or minor health implications due to burn pit exposure while working overseas, or you have a loved one who is having a tough time battling medical conditions due to burn pit exposure, you must act now. 

It is essential that you assess your claim with the right defense base act lawyer. With more than a decade’s experience in handling burn pit exposure, Grossman Attorneys at Law is dedicated to assisting with your claim. Get what you deserve with one of the country’s most renowned DBA claims attorneys. Our team will give their 100% to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.

Howard Grossman

With over 40 years of experience, Howard Grossman is one of the leading personal injury attorneys in Boca Raton, Florida. He has a reputation for his accessibility, compassion, and tenacious trial preparation. Howard has litigated through complex claims ranging from medical malpractice, jones act, defense base act claims, longshore injuries, boating accidents, maritime injuries, product liability, wrongful death, and cruise ship injury cases.

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