Chemical Exposure Bill Passes House
Congress passed a bill to provide support to veterans exposed to toxins during service. This most relevantly applies to burn pits used in Afghanistan and Iraq – pits where toxins like tires, paint, petroleum, Styrofoam, and medical waste, were burned causing toxic fumes. In his State of the Union address, Biden cited burn pits to be a possible culprit causing his son's brain cancer but acknowledged that we will never know for sure.
This bill is focused on veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who are in direct contact with burn sites, but it encompasses a much larger group of veterans.
Considering the lack of compensation for Agent Orange victims, this bill is inclusive of a broad range of conditions and retroactive compensation for exposure to toxins. It adds hypertension as a qualified condition resulting from Agent Orange. It also applies to anyone who served and was exposed to toxins and later got sick, even on a US home base site as far back as 1990.
A registry that was started in 2014 estimates about 3.4 million vets were exposed to burn pits. Survivors of Agent Orange with hypertension would receive about $100k in compensation. About 268,000 veterans exposed to burn pits who have previously been denied compensation would receive payouts of about $50K. The bill passed in the House with mostly Democrat votes and 34 Republican votes but it still needs to make it passed the Senate.