In August 2010, New York Times correspondent James Risen discussed problems from burn pit toxic waste exposure.
Former staff sgt. Susan Clifford one of many victims. Involved in dumping Balad Air Base trash “into a massive, open-air pit.”
“Every conceivable type…” Including “plastics, batteries, appliances, medicine, dead animals, even human body parts…”
Burned “with a dousing of jet fuel. A huge black plume of smoke hung over the pit, nearly blinding Ms. Clifford on her twice-a-month visits, and wafted over the entire base.”
Clifford was a serious runner. In 2005, she began coughing up phlegm. Had breathing problems. Had difficulty working out. Couldn’t physically train. Her symptoms worsened. Became serious. Doctors discovered her lungs filled with fluids. Unlike what they ever saw before. Unsure what to do. In April 2010, Clifford retired from army service with full disability.
“(O)ne one of the first veterans to receive an official ruling from the military that exposure to open-air burn pits at American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused medical problems,” said Risen.
Numerous others affected the same way. Pentagon officials downplay the problem to this day.