Ohio Troops Exposed To Toxic ‘Burn Pits’ Welcome New Federal Legislation

The Columbus Dispatch

WASHINGTON — Sen. Sherrod Brown is co-sponsoring a bill introduced last week that would require the Pentagon to examine U.S. soldiers who may have been exposed to toxic smoke generated by open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill, which failed to win congressional approval last year, attracted renewed interest last week when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from U.S. soldiers who claimed the smoke from burning tires and medical waste made them sick. They had brought a class-action lawsuit against KBR Inc., the company contracted by the military to dispose of waste on many U.S. bases.

The day after last week’s court ruling, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska re-introduced the bill, which calls on the Pentagon to examine soldiers for the toxic exposure during regular medical exams and find out if the soldiers were stationed near one of the open-air pits.

Brown said Wednesday he would co-sponsor the bill, saying in a statement “we have a responsibility to ensure our veterans have the care they need to address the dangers they face while serving this country.”

The Ohio Democrat said the bill is “a first step toward addressing the unique health needs of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Last year, Susan Zeier of Sandusky, appeared on Capitol Hill to tell lawmakers about her son-in-law, a central Ohio resident who served in Iraq in 2006 and was diagnosed in March 2017 with Stage 4 non-small-cell adenocarcinoma, a type of lung cancer that is extremely difficult to treat.

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