By Kelly Kennedy – Army Times Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 31, 2009 16:54:07 EDT
Troops exposed to fumes from open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan face “significant danger,” according to independent scientists hired by Congress to look at a study conducted by the military on the burn pit at Joint Base Balad, the largest U.S. facility in Iraq.
“Independent scientists who have reviewed the joint study of Balad Air Base have informed us that there is a significant danger that veterans may become ill as a result of exposure to fumes emanating from such burn pits,” states a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed and sent by eight lawmakers on March 30. “They also noted that the underlying data supporting the study was not included and that it will be difficult to ascertain the potential health care implications of exposure to the fumes without this data.”
The letter asks Gates to provide that data to Congress and the Government Accountability Office, even if it needs to be reviewed in a classified setting.
The letter is signed by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.; Evan Bayh, D-Ind; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Reps. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y.; Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; John Hall, D-N.Y.; Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y.; and Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.