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Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures

Information for Health Care Providers

Many Veterans see health care providers from VA as well as providers in the community outside of the VA system. Regardless of when and where you care for Veteran patients, it is important to understand how exposure to environmental hazards like open burn pits may impact their health and wellness.

Our Current Understanding of Airborne Hazard Exposures

Doctor speaking with older male

VA, the Department of Defense, and other research entities have conducted a number of studies to better understand whether airborne hazard exposures are related to long-term health issues. 

Exposure to open burn pits is a serious concern for many Veterans and service members. Available research indicates that most health conditions related to burn pits are temporary and should resolve after the exposure ends. Combined with other types of hazardous exposures and injuries, it is possible that burn pit exposure may contribute to longer term health issues.

Other contributing factors may include:

  • Sand, dust, and particulate matter
  • General air pollution common in certain countries
  • Fuel, aircraft exhaust, and other mechanical fumes
  • Smoke from oil well fires
  • Blast or noise injuries

Options for Veterans

Please encourage all Veterans who may have been exposed to environmental hazards during their military service to apply for VA health care and file a VA claim. Even if Veterans have other insurance or are not currently experiencing symptoms they believe are related to theirexposures, taking these steps may give them access to care and services to meet their unique care needs.

All Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations after August 2, 1990 or Afghanistan or Djibouti on or after September 11, 2001 are also eligible to participate in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR).

  • By joining the registry, Veterans provide information that can help us better understand the long-term effects of burn pit exposures.
  • Veterans should participate even if they are not experiencing any symptoms or illnesses that may be related to burn pit exposure.

Resources and Training for Health Care Providers

Together, we can help Veterans monitor, diagnose, and treat health any health conditions related to their military service. VA has developed a variety of information and training resources to support both VA and non-VA providers who treat Veterans exposed to airborne hazards. We encourage all providers and health care professionals to review these materials to help you provide clear, actionable information to Veterans and their families.

VA’s War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) has developed a  series of on demand training modules  for both VA and non-VA providers on post-deployment health issues.

  • VA providers and staff can access these trainings at any time through VA’s Employee Education System. Non-VA providers may take these courses at no cost through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) course catalog on TRAIN.org.
  • Continuing education credits are available for physicians, physician assistants, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and other providers.

WRIISC also offers a monthly webinar series on post deployment health topics for VA and non-VA providers. You can find a schedule of the current webinars at [ link to or page].  

Exposure Ed App

VA also offers Exposure Ed, an app that helps health care providers engage Veterans in discussions about their military exposures. Through this free app, providers can learn about exposures, quickly share information with Veterans, and search VA facilities and programs to help Veterans get the care they need.

To learn more, visit the VA Mobile Health site. The app is available for download on Android or Apple devices.

Additional resources for health care providers include:

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