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Burn Pit Emissions Exposure and Respiratory and Cardiovascular Conditions Among Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry Participants

Liu, Jason ScD; Lezama, Nicholas MD; Gasper, Joseph PhD; Kawata, Jennifer MS; Morley, Sybil MPH; Helmer, Drew MD; Ciminera, Paul MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2016 - Volume 58 - Issue 7 - p e249–e255
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000776

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine how burn pit emissions exposure is associated with the incidence of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

Methods: We examined the associations between assumed geographic and self-reported burn pit emissions exposure and respiratory and cardiovascular outcomes in participants of the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.

Results: We found significant dose–response associations for higher risk of self-reported emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with increased days of deployment within 2 miles of selected burn pits (P-trend = 0.01) and self-reported burn pit smoke exposure (P-trend = 0.0005).

Conclusions: We found associations between burn pit emissions exposure and higher incidence of post-deployment self-reported respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, but these findings should be interpreted with caution because the surrogate measurements of burn pit emissions exposure in this analysis may not reflect individual exposure levels.

Westat, Rockville, Maryland (Dr Liu, Dr Gasper, Ms Kawata); Department of Veterans Affairs, Post Deployment Health Services, Washington, District of Columbia (Dr Lezama, Ms Morley); War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, VA – New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange (Dr Helmer); Rutgers University – New Jersey Medical School, Newark (Dr Helmer); and Department of Veterans Affairs, Post 911 Environmental Health Program, Washington, District of Columbia (Dr Ciminera).

Address correspondence to: Nicholas Lezama, MD, Department of Veterans Affairs, Post Deployment Health Services, Washington, DC (

The Department of Veterans Affairs paid Westat to perform data analysis and manuscript writing.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2016 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine