Polycythemia vera reported in vet exposed to war-zone burn pits
So they came up with a simple solution to their problem: They simply burned the trash -- which included batteries, plastics, motor oil, pesticide containers and medical waste -- in big, open-air pits.
Now some of the veterans and others who were exposed to the toxic smoke are complaining of serious health problems. They're also suing the companies behind the toxic burn pits -- Houston-based KBR and former parent company Halliburton -- for their actions, as I reported this week for Facing South.
Among the health problems being reported in association with the burn pits are respiratory disorders, chronic infections and cancers including polycythemia vera. A cluster of the relatively rare blood malignancy has been confirmed in the Hometown area, which also has the nation's heaviest concentration of power plants that burn waste coal and other waste fuels.
As TheHill.com reports:
Anthony Roles, an Air Force veteran, was stationed in Balad from November 2003 through March 2004. There, he says, he experienced the burn pits on a daily basis, living less than a mile from them. In April of 2004, after serving his tour, he was diagnosed with essential thrombocythemia, a disease that causes the body to overproduce platelets. He was later diagnosed with polycythemia vera, a very rare, incurable cancer that affects 1 in 100,000 people. This condition requires him to take a chemo pill daily and to undergo bloodletting once to twice a month. Roles also had a heart attack at the age of 30 due to complications from the medication.Roles' personal story is posted at the Burn Pits Action Center website, which was created by the office of U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), Kerry Baker from Disabled American Veterans and Kelly Kennedy from Army Times as a central information clearinghouse on the pits. This week, Bishop introduced the Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act (H.R.2419) requiring an investigation into the effects of burn pits and prohibiting their continued use.
I've reported on the link between polycythemia vera and exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, particularly the PAH benzo(a)pyrene. PAHs are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil and garbage. They're also a pollutant of concern with the fluidized bed combustion systems used in waste-coal-burning power plants.
(Photo of smoke from a burn pit from Burn Pits Action Center)