There was a recent briefing on November 201, 2013 that explained some of the key aspects for Gulf War Veterans and the Open Burn Pit Registry.  At the beginning of this year, a new law was passed, P.L. 112-260 section 201 that requires the VA to build up a registry of contaminants from the Persian Gulf region by January 10, 2014.  The purpose and goal of the open burn pit registry to help understand what the health effects of gulf war veterans might be from airborne contaminants, particulate matter, and other toxins that were present in the Gulf War region.  Eligibility under this new law will be at first open to Veterans who served in the Persian Gulf region after September 11, 2001, but will later be expanded to all Veterans of the region who served on or after August 2, 1990.  The VA has a centralized website to access the open burn pit registry and information here.  There is a draft questionnaire on the website but it isn’t ready to be completed yet.  The website also provides a link so that Veterans can add information to the open burn pit registry, but keep in mind that a DS login is required to add to this open burn pit registry.  Unfortunately, this registry will not qualify veterans for presumed exposure to these contaminants and toxins for purposes of VA disability compensation.
The senator from New Mexico Tom Udall wrote the bill and is designed to help the VA monitor Veteran’s health and to release information on new scientific studies that will help the Gulf War veteran community understand risks of exposure.  There is an indepth new story from the Verge that describes some gulf war veterans experiences here.   The chronic multisystem illnesses associated with gulf war service are commonly found in Veterans of this region.  Often respiratory, neurological and digestive problems develop and there is no real clear cause of the ailments.  The army bases of the region unfortunately incinerate just about anything one could think of such as batteries, human body parts, waste, asbestos, jet fuel, etc. The kinds of things that were/are being incinerated in the region are far more toxic then things such as wood waste that still causes significant risks to human heath.  Whats worse is that the Department of Defense has long known the risks to human health from open pit burning–reportedly this has been known since 1978.  At some point the government ordered the closing of open burn pits and switched to closed incineration.  As can be expected the incineration does not significantly reduce the risk to human health.  It has been well known that incineration that occurs in the U.S. has caused risk to human health.