Many United State soldiers returning home from Iraq have complained of asbestos exposure from residing in poorly built housing units with insulation made from the material or working on military vehicles that use asbestos in their brake pads. Some US soldiers have been diagnosed with lung cancer, respiratory disorders and other conditions that result from toxic exposure linked to their service in Iraq.
Reports show that asbestos imports to Iraq amounted almost $200,000 since 2003. There are currently no regulations concerning health and safety of personal on the job in Iraq for those working with asbestos exposure. The whole area has seen a raise in the import of asbestos, excluding Egypt and Saudi Arabia because they have regulations against asbestos. To show how much consumption that is now taking place, Iran alone orders more than 25,000 tons of asbestos each year.
Asbestos is a known toxin that was used for many years in building materials, including insulation. Once inhaled or ingested, microscopic asbestos fibers can become lodged in vital tissues. Over time these fibers can accumulate and cause irritation, inflammation, and eventual damage. Pulmonary diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and pleural mesothelioma are more common illnesses caused by asbestos exposure, but abdominal and heart diseases can result from exposure as well. Numerous studies have also linked asbestos exposure to a range of other diseases, such as gastrointestinal and colon cancer. Exposure to asbestos is the number one cause mesothelioma, a rare but aggressive form of lung and liver cancer.
In the past year an increasing number of lawsuits have been filed with regards to soldiers and military personnel being exposed to asbestos dust and fibers in Iraq as a result of debris being burned near to the site. The lawsuits were filed in many states, like California, Illinois, Missouri and New York. The lawsuits were filed against the construction and engineering company Kellogg Brown & Root which is a former subsidiary of Halliburton. The company has dealt with a number of United States government and military contracts for some time now. It is said in the lawsuit that Kellogg Brown & Root had many burn pits in Iraq and that they burned many things that released toxic waste and debris into the air, putting soldiers at risk of asbestos exposure.