Downrange deployments linked to untreatable lung ailment

The burn pit at Balad Air Base, Iraq, was in full operation in early 2008. Though the military has purchased incinerators to mitigate any health risks from open trash burning, few have been installed.


By Published: July 20, 2011

Some soldiers have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with an untreatable lung disease that interferes with their ability to do physical exercise, possibly caused by inhaling toxic material, doctors report.

Vanderbilt University researchers found constrictive bronchiolitis in 38 post-deployment soldiers, a disease that is rare in young people, they said. Twenty-eight of the soldiers had been exposed to a sulfur mine fire in Mosul, Iraq, in 2003.

Dust storms and burn pits may also have played a role, the lead researcher said.

The researchers concluded their study in 2009 but have since found nine more cases, The Associated Press reported. They published an article on their findings in the July 21 New England Journal of Medicine.

Read more about the bronchiolitis study from AP

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