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  • Suzanne Caruso

Cardiovascular Disease & Airborne Particulates


Burn Pits & More. The fight for Veteran Coverage.

Approximately 2.6 million military personnel were deployed to military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decades, and many were likely exposed to a variety of airborne hazards during deployment. Environmental hazards associated to theaters of operations in these regions include particulate matter (PM) and gaseous air pollutants that originated from burning of human and non-human solid wastes, smoke from structural fires and burning oil wells, dust and sand particles as well as aircraft and automobile engine exhaust. Short and long-term exposure to such air pollutants are now medically associated with adverse health effects on respiratory and cardiovascular systems.


Multiple scientific studies support that exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM) can substantially increase the risk for cardiovascular conditions. Additionally, a strong link has been demonstrated between PM exposure and death due to heart disease. Gaseous pollutants that are usually present along airborne PM (e.g., CO, NO2, NOX, O3 and SO2) are also shown to be closely related to the development of cardiovascular disease (to include hypertension and Ischemic Heart Disease). Military personnel with history of significant exposure to burn pits, fumes and air pollution are at a particularly high cardiovascular risk.


In summary, a history of exposure to airborne PM has been shown to have deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system including increased risk of coronary heart disease and hypertension.

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