Excerpts from the article:
Often, waste was burned in open-air pits, with jet fuel sometimes used as an accelerant. At many bases, virtually all waste was burned, ranging from paints, solvents, tires, plastics and Styrofoam to batteries and electronic equipment. Depending on the burn locations and prevailing winds, smoke frequently permeated these outposts and adjacent areas.
A 2011 National Academy of Sciences investigation into the health hazards of burn pits, commissioned by the Veteran Affairs Department, found “inadequate/insufficient evidence of an association between exposure to combustion products and cancer, respiratory disease, circulatory disease, neurologic disease, and adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes in the populations studied.”
However, the academy’s 15-member expert panel also noted that “information that would have assisted the committee in determining composition of the smoke” from burn pits, which would have helped assess health hazards, “was not available,” according to its report, “The Long-Term Health Consequences of Exposure To Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.”