At the hundreds of military bases set up in both countries, the U.S. military often resorted to disposing of waste by burning it in open-air pits. Everything from human waste to dead animals to plastics to asbestos and more were thrown into them, doused with jet fuel, and ignited.
The result was thick, black plumes of smoke that filled the air with not just foul smells, but extremely unhealthy particles inhaled by soldiers.
“The military’s burn pits emitted particulate matter laced with heavy metals and toxins—like sulfur dioxide, arsenic, dioxins, and hydrochloric acid—that are linked to serious health ailments,” according to an investigative report by The Verge's Katie Drummond.
One veteran, Dan Meyer, told Drummond: “I remember waking up with soot on me; you’d come out and barely see the sun because it was so dark from the smoke.”
“We always called it ‘black snow,’” said the former Air Force service member who now needs an oxygen tank to breathe.
Military commanders authorized the use of burn pits, even though the Pentagon has known for decades that this disposal method is wrought with...