As barbaric as it sounds, the military has used burn pits for the past two decades in combat zones. A literal hole dug into the ground, filled with trash and ignited with diesel fuels, smoldering for days, weeks and months. Burn pits were the most common source of waste disposal at war.
Lifestyle in a combat zone is different than majority of other environments we are used to working and living in. For example Iraq's gasoline is leaded verses our unleaded gasoline to sandstorms and small airborne particles. We took an in-depth look into OCONUS lifestyles and living conditions that negatively affects our exposures.
Does your branch of service make a difference in terms of your exposures? Of course. What about your military occupational specialties and additional duties? Is one specific job more likely to be exposed? Hard to say, but we looked into various specialties.
ILLNESSES AND INFECTIONS
Third-world countries have diseases and infections that aren't commonly seen. These conditions increase drastically during periods of conflict and war. We looked into viral, vectorborne, bacterial and airborne infections in the local population and the impact on our veterans.
We all know the theory of "chemical weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. We don't mean that, we mean the smaller chemical compounds used in the early eighties and nineties during intra-conflicts that our troops were exposed to years later. Sarin, Tabun, Mustard Gas and Depleted Uranium, you know the good stuff.
Combat exposures cause more than post-traumatic stress. Ever let off a rapid ten rounds of 5.56 from your 14" barrel M4A1 and smell that distinctive kick back of sulfur and spent casings? How does that affect us? What about direct hit IED blasts? Or what about post-blast recoveries?