Toxic Chemicals

Veterans' exposure to the chemicals listed below potentially could be linked to certain health problems, depending on a number of other factors:

Agent Orange or Other Herbicides

The US military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War.  Several decades later, concerns about the health effects from these chemicals continue.  VA offers eligible Veterans a free Agent Orange Registry health exam for possible long-term health problems related to exposure.


Burn Pits

Burn pits have operated widely at military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan.  At this time, VA research does not show evidence of long-term health problems.  Responding to concerns of many returning Veterans, VA will continue to study the health risks and establish a burn pit registry for eligible Veterans.


Sulfure Fire

A fire that ignited in June 2003 at the Mishraq State Sulfur Mine Plant near Mosul, Iraq burned for almost a month.  Field samples of air in the vacinity of the fire detected sufur dioxide at levels immediately dangerous to health and life.


Camp Lejeune: Water Contamination

From the 1950s through the 1980s, people living or working at the US Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals.


Industrial Solvents

Many servicemembers use industrial solvents in regular military tasks such as cleaning, degreasing, paint stripping, and thinning oil-based paints.  Too much exposure to some industrial solvents can cause short-term and long-term health effects.


Chromium (Qarmat Ali)

The Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Facility area was contaminated with sodium dichromate. Those servicemembers assigned to the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Facility may have been exposed to toxic hexavalent chromium from breathing contaminated sodium dichromate dust.


Polych;orinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are manufactured organic chemicals that are no longer produced in the US.  Products made before 1977 that may contain PCBs include fluorescent lighting fixtures, old microscopes and hydraulic oils.  Veterans at risk for PCB exposure during military service are those who, before 1977, worked on repair and maintenance of PCB transformers, capacitors, and conduits.