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Army Times: Akaka wants DoD, VA to review war-zone toxins

December 1, 2008

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Dec 1, 2008 19:08:25 EST

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has asked that the co-chairs of the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs Oversight Committee begin a review of environmental toxins - including those coming from burn pits - at bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Reports of possible exposure to smoke from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan have come to the committee's attention," Akaka wrote in a letter dated Dec. 1. "Concerns about such exposure would appear to be an ideal opportunity for focused efforts to track the location of service members in relation to the possible exposure sites."

The letter was addressed to Gordon England, deputy defense secretary, and Gordon Mansfield, deputy VA secretary.

"I would appreciate learning how DoD identifies and monitors locations where possible exposure to smoke from fire pits in Iraq and Afghanistan may have occurred, what steps DoD is taking to identify those service members who may have been exposed to such hazards, how information on exposures is transmitted to VA, and what policies and procedures VA has in place to ensure that relevant information is used to the adjudication of potential disability claims," Akaka wrote.

In November, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., asked Gen. David Petraeus for an investigation into whether troops are being exposed to harmful fumes from burn pits.

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December 2008

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