Accession Number:



Waste Management: DOD Has Generally Addressed Legislative Requirements on the Use of Burn Pits but Needs to Fully Assess Health Effects

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

Corporate Author:

U.S. Government Accountability Office Washington United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Why GAO Did This StudyBurn pits help base commanders manage waste generated by U.S. forces overseas, but they also produce harmful emissions that military and other health professionals believe may result in chronic health effects for those exposed. Section 313 of the NDAA for FY 2015 requires the Secretary of Defense to review DOD compliance with law and guidance regarding the disposal of covered waste in burn pits. DOD submitted a report on the results of its review in March 2016.Section 313 also includes a provision for GAO to assess DODs report and its compliance with applicable DOD instruction and law. This report evaluates the extent to which 1 DODs report addressed the elements required in section 313 2 DOD, including combatant commands, issued guidance for burn pit use that addresses applicable legislative requirements and 3 DOD has assessed any health risks of burn pit use. GAO compared DODs report to elements required in section 313, reviewed policies and procedures and interviewed DOD officials. What GAO Recommends GAO made three recommendations to include establishing policies and procedures and ensuring research specifically examines the relationship between direct burn pit exposure and long-term health issues. DOD concurred with the first recommendation and partially concurred with the second, citing research it has or has plans to conduct. GAO agrees this research contributes to general understanding but continues to believe more specific research is needed.

Subject Categories:

Distribution Statement: