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Ring of Fire

Thousands of veretans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are complaining of breathing problems, gastrointestinal disorders, and even rare cancers, the Verge reports. Some have already died of these ailments. A handful of health experts are now concerned that today’s veterans face an emerging epidemic, one threatening the lives of thousands of men and women. And it’s all because of garbage.

Each soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan generated around 10 pounds of garbage per day. Most of that trash—along with used equipment and medical supplies and other wastes of war—was burned in open-air pits, emitting a toxic smoke that many soliders blame for their poor health today.

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