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What do the Recent Particulate Matter Changes Mean for You?

After serving our country abroad, some veterans have returned home with illnesses and disabilities due to the climate and environment of where they were stationed. As a result, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has compiled a list of conditions that are presumed to have resulted from active-duty service, many of which are based on the geographical location of where a veteran served.

As of May 27, 2021, the VA updated the list of presumptive conditions to include three illnesses that focus primarily on the upper and lower respiratory system. Asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis caused by particulate matter are now considered presumptive conditions. Now, veterans who have experienced symptoms of asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis after being exposed to particulate matter during their active-duty service may be able to collect VA disability benefits.

What is Particulate Matter?

Particulate matter is a mixture of both solid and liquid particles found in the air. These particles come in all shapes and sizes and can have various harmful effects on humans. Particulate matter has some particles so small that the naked eye cannot see them but which could cause potentially life-threatening effects if inhaled.

Effects of Particulate Matter on Former Servicemembers

By adding these conditions to the presumptive conditions list, the VA acknowledged the correlation between exposure to particulate matter during active-duty service and the development of asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis in veterans. These conditions are known for their impact on the upper and lower respiratory tract and have the potential to be life-threatening.

Who do these Changes Apply To?

The VA determined that veterans who served in Southwest Asia beginning on August 2, 1999, to the present day could have been exposed to particulate matter throughout their time in uniform. Additionally, individuals who were diagnosed with asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis after serving in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, or Djibouti from September 19, 2001, to the present day could also be eligible for disability benefits based on exposure to particulate matter.

How Are Servicemembers Exposed to Particulate Matter?

Particulate matter may form as a result of pollution. Common sources of this specific type of pollution include oil well fires, burn pits, and sandstorms. Oil well fires were used during the Gulf War and created a toxic black smoke when set on fire that polluted the air, water, and food supply, creating the perfect conditions for particulate matter to form.

Burn pits have been used to dispose of waste but tend to create harmful pollution in the air. Lastly, sandstorms, specifically located in Southwest Asia, are known for high volumes of particulate matter due to the dry environment.

Contact Our Firm Today

Experienced veterans’ disability lawyer Jan Dils is here to help you get the benefits you deserve. Contact our team today to see what benefits you are entitled to and the steps needed to progress your case. Our firm is committed to helping veterans obtain disability compensation from the VA. Give us a call to schedule a consultation and hear how we could help you today.

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