Burn Pits

by Project Censored

As burn pits are used as a prime method for waste management on military bases, the process has created concerns about the possible effects on our soldiers’ health. Since the process consists of constantly running jet fuel to burn the waste, the mixture creates dangerously harmful fumes and toxins that are released and to which the soldiers are exposed. Apparently due to the burn pits, many soldiers are now experiencing respiratory and other health complications. The purpose of burn pits is to dispose of waste, on the military base, such as human waste, paper, plastic, and electronics. Throwing all of these components into the burn pits releases numerous toxins into the air, creating a hazardous environment for the individuals living there for months at a time. According to Pentagon officials, there is no specific evidence that these health problems are caused by the burn pits, but many soldiers and doctors are trying to prove them wrong and show that these burn pits are the reason they now have health issues.


Drummoned, Katie “Combat ‘Burn Pits’ Ruin Immune Systems, Study Shows” May 23, 2012 http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/05/burn-pits/

Dobbin, Sean “Military burn pit claims in limbo” October 20, 2013 http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/20/troops-civilians-in-limbo-over-military-burn-pits/3087659/

J. Malcom Garcia November 10, 2011



Student Researcher: Dana Ensmenger, Indian River State College

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College


When burn pits come up in conversation, I’m sure you don’t know the full story behind them, as I know I didn’t.  Burn pits have seemed to slide by mainstream media even though this topic raises plenty of ethical issues.  The biggest ethical problem is how these fumes engulf the surrounding air in which these soldiers have to work, live and breathe everyday for months on end.  Even though not every soldier comes down with these illnesses, it does affect thousands of other soldiers.  You would think this would be enough information to raise the question on the impact burn pits have on soldiers’ health.

Admittedly, having these pits does make it easier to dispose of all the garbage on the base, without soldiers leaving the safe zone.  We do have to remember that the simplest of tasks are more difficult for our soldiers when they are in foreign countries.  Even with all the hazardous fumes our soldiers are exposed to, burn pits do keep our soldiers out of harm’s way when you think of bombs, and other war affiliated tributes that make it dangerous to leave the base.  So what is an adequate ethical response to this apparent ethical dilemma?.

The answer would be for the US government to invest in a less dangerous way of disposing of waste instead of making the soldiers pay the price by sacrificingt their health. The physical harm these soldiers endure is quite disturbing.  Almost every soldier deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan has faced the fumes these pits release.

Thousands of soldiers and veterans are now coming forward to prove that these burn pits are the culprit to their health problems.  It is difficult to believe that an issue this important has not been adequately covered by mainstream media.  The ethical issues this story brings to light are alarming and needs to be publicized.  We need to keep our soldiers healthy and burn pits are the wrong way to go about it.