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Burn Pits: The "Agent Orange" of the Iraq War

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Formation of "Constrictive Bronchiolitis"

Exposure to PM₂.₅ Iraq dust and inhaled burn pit smoke containing benzene, dioxins, sulfurs and others causes onset of constrictive bronchiolitis by entering the body when the veteran inhales vapors, droplets of spray or dust containing these chemicals.


Iraq dust is dangerous because it is composed of a “silica-core encased calcium carbonate, with dust particles small enough to fit dozens on the head of a pin” (Miller, 2013, p. 6); as noted with the comparison picture left.

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These inhaled chemicals cause inflammation, extrinsic narrowing of the luminal wall caused by epithelial fibrosis, smooth-muscle hypertrophy and enlargement in the bronchioles.


Symptoms can include, but are not limited to: shortness of breath on exertion, sore throat, productive cough, wheezing, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and other flu-like and asthma-like symptoms.


A short latency period can be seen with veterans who have been exposed and have undiagnosed constrictive bronchiolitis because often signs and symptoms direct the cause to be asthma-related therefore treatments mask the actual disease.

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Dr. Anthony Szema, Stony Brook University & Northport, New York Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

National Institutes of Health 2014: "Iraq Dust is Respirable, Sharp, Metal-Laden, and Induces Lung Inflammation with Fibrosis"