Martin C. Evans

Did Burn Pits Claim Life of West Babylon Man?

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Did a former West Babylon soldier contract the cancer that killed him from a routine military practice that has exposed hundreds of thousands of U.S. GIs to toxic gasses while they served in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Newsday is reporting that the soldier, former Sgt. Bill McKenna, died at a Florida hospice Dec. 27 of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
His wife Dina, a Lindenhurst native now living in Florida, insists that the rare cancer was the result of his daily inhalation of smoke from military burn pits during his wartime service.
McKenna, who in his free time during the 1980s and early 1990s played bass guitar with local metal bands Chemical Warfare and Skull Rot, was only 41.
McKenna enlisted in 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, and served two tours in Iraq.
While there, he was constantly exposed to smoke from the burn pits that Balad and virtually all US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan used daily to incinerate tons of plastic, medical waste, spent equipment and other trash.
The practice produced irritating chemical aerosols that many soldiers say left them with asthma and other respiratory problems.


Recent concerns about the possible link between burn pits and health troubles echo earlier anxieties of many Vietnam veterans, who believe their exposure to Agent Orange a generation earlier has led to a rash of premature deaths among them.

Newsday first reported on concerns related to burn pits a year ago.

That article cited the chief of the allergy section at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dr. Anthony Szema, who told a congressional committee that the pits were exposing soldiers to mercury, arsenic, dioxins and other toxic combustion products released by the constantly smoldering pits.


Earlier this year, a federal judge allowed a class-action lawsuit to proceed against contractors who operated burn pits for the U.S. military, according to the Tampa Tribune. The lawsuit already has 300 plaintiffs in 43 states.


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