"Spc. Carissa Gillis developed a nagging cough within days of arriving in Iraq last November. For the next nine months of her deployment, it never quite went away.
In her mind, it wasn’t hard to figure out why.
Gillis, a member of the Washington National Guard’s 81st Brigade Combat Team, often drew the assignment of supervising Iraqi day laborers at a recycling plant on Joint Base Balad. About 100 yards away lay a massive burn pit, belching thick clouds of black smoke all day and night.
The Department of Defense says its studies don’t bear out that burn pit smoke causes chronic illnesses. But Congress isn’t so sure, having recently sent President Barack Obama a defense spending bill with provisions that restrict and monitor burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The president signed the bill Wednesday."