VA’s WRIISC offers expertise in airborne hazards
VA’s War Related Illness and Injury Study Center in East Orange, NJ (WRIISC-NJ), is conducting several initiatives as a part of its effort to understand the health effects of airborne hazards and provide care for Veterans.
The Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence: The Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence (AHBPCE) within WRIISC-NJ conducts research on airborne hazards and burn pits and their possible health effects, including respiratory concerns, unexplained shortness of breath (dyspnea), and other health outcomes. The AHBPCE stems from WRIISC-NJ’s past work. Researchers initially conducted Pulmonary Function Tests but then determined that this test may not always be enough to completely evaluate Veterans. They expanded evaluations to include more in-depth testing, such as cardiopulmonary exercise testing, high-resolution CT scans, and ENT evaluations. These offerings led to WRIISC-NJ’s designation as the Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence on May 2, 2019. The goals of the AHBPCE include establishing best practices, developing standardized evaluations, conducting research, and providing education and outreach.
The Post Deployment Cardiopulmonary Evaluation Network: In July 2019, the AHBPCE established the Post Deployment Cardiopulmonary Evaluation Network (PDCEN) to increase access to specialized cardiopulmonary evaluations for Veterans and to be able to create and discuss Veterans’ health risks and care plans. PDCEN sites are at Baltimore, MD, Ann Arbor, MI, Denver, CO and San Francisco, CA, in addition to the AHBPCE in East Orange, NJ.
The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry: In 2021, WRIISC-NJ is assuming a greater role in the daily operations of the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. WRIISC-NJ is building on the work of improving data quality and analysis to harness the power of both the questionnaire and in-person exam results in the registry. The self-reported questionnaire portion informs WRIISC-NJ’s knowledge of Veterans’ experiences and concerns. The clinical exam portion allows WRIISC-NJ to understand clinician observations and diagnoses.
With these resources, WRIISC-NJ can improve research and care for Veterans exposed to airborne hazards.