Open-air Burn Pits: CBS News profiles illness striking returning vets

A recent report by CBS News profiles 40-year-old LeRoy Torres, a former Texas state trooper and captain in the U.S. Army Reserves who was deployed for a year-long combat tour to Iraq in 2007. As soon as he returned home, he was hospitalized, suffering from breathing attacks. Torres has since been diagnosed with the lung disease, constrictive bronchiolitis, and has a lesion on his brain, as well as cysts in his spleen and groin. These conditions leave him, on most days, unable to get out of bed.

While in Iraq, Torres was housed near a burn pit, which have been used to destroy waste on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan and generate toxic smoke, ash and fumes. Torres believes his exposure to the burn pit caused his health problems.

In February, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a notice in the Federal Register entitled, "Initial Research on the Long-Term Health Consequences of Exposure to Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan." The notice announced that the VA plans to conduct a study of the adverse health effects related to military deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, including the potential for exposure to airborne hazards and burn pits.

Learn more about Torres and burn pits.

Motley Rice attorneys have been working with co-counsel Susan Burke of Burke PLLC in the KBR, Inc., Burn Pit multidistrict litigation (MDL) representing clients against multiple defense contractors for allegedly exposing American soldiers and former employees of defense contractors to toxic smoke, ash and fumes generated by disposing of waste in open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. We welcome you to contact us if you have a question about the burn pit litigation. Contact Motley Rice attorney James Ledlie by email or call 1.800.768.4026 or Burke PLLC attorney Susan Burke by email or call 202.386.9622.