Open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan

On the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum, we have discussed previously the use of open-air burn pits by the US Army operating in Iraq and Afghanistan (see Archive files).

These are dangerous and highly polluting and cast a shadow on their operators who should be obliged to conform to international norms and install efficient waste treatment facilities or ship their waste out for treatment elsewhere.

As reported in Army Times, the American Lung Association has called for the military to ban open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Until recently, medical wastes and plastics were disposed in these burn pits, though in recent years these have been excluded from burn pits, but only from those in Iraq. After several years of gross pollution and much lobbying about the risks posed by these open-air burn pits 

in Iraq and Afghanistan, a commitment has been secured from the US Department of Defense regarding the provision of protective equipment such as masks and respirators to troops if they are deployed near burn pits.

Well, it’s a start. Masks – unlikely to be of much values – and respirators for troops if they are deployed near burn pits. That may provde protection for some, though the level of protection is unlikely to be perfect. It does nothing for others who may be affected directly or indirectly, nor for the environment that must bear this insult to land, air and water.

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