Paratroopers burn unused 105 mm projectile charges after a live-fire exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on Jan. 19, 2017. (Air Force photo)

GAO: DoD Needs to Fully Assess Health Risks of Burn Pits

GAO reported burn pit emissions produced harmful effects on those exposed, and the Defense Department recommended U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) monitor burn pits in their areas.

Burn pits are “shallow excavations or surface features with berms used to conduct open-air burning” and are “often chosen as a method of waste disposal during recent contingency operations” in CENTCOM.

Due to limited information on the risks and effects of exposure levels, DoD hasn’t been able to assess the health impacts. DoD has found that “given the potential use of burn pits near installations and during future contingency operations,” they would establish “processes to monitor burn pit emissions for unacceptable exposures.” This would help the DoD and “combatant commanders to collect data that could help assess exposure to risks.”

GAO recommended improved monitoring of the pit emissions and chronic health effects associated with exposure.

Read more at GAO

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