Though airborne contaminants such as sand and dust can cause intense irritation when inhaled, extremely small particles and liquid droplets can pass almost unnoticed into airways. That means this particulate matter, or PM, can travel deep inside the lungs, potentially causing a number of serious health issues.
What is particulate matter and where does it come from?
Particulate matter (PM) is a complex blend of fine particles and liquid droplets, including such materials as acids, metals, pollutants, chemicals, soil, and dust.
Though there are both manufactured and natural forms of PM throughout the world, PM levels are significantly higher in Southwest Asia. Some of the sources veterans may have come into contact with while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan include:
- Vehicle exhaust
- Construction sites
- Dust storms
- Burn pits
- Emissions from local manufacturing
Smaller PM is considered to be more insidious as it is much easier for it to pass through the respiratory system.
How do I know if I have possibly been exposed to hazardous PM?
Symptoms of health issues resulting from PM exposure can feel similar to those of seasonal allergies or respiratory illnesses like cold or flu. Talk to your physician if you experience:
- Persistent irritation of the eyes, nose, throat or skin
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
What are the potential risks of PM exposure?
PM exposure culminating in serious health issues is generally the result of several variables, including the size and composition of the PM, the amount and intensity of exposure, as well as the age and health of the individual exposed.
Studies have linked PM exposure to a variety of respiratory and cardiopulmonary health problems, especially in individuals who already have asthma or heart problems.
If you believe you are experiencing the long-term health effects of PM exposure, talk to your doctor. It may be possible to receive VA disability compensation for a service-connected inhalation injury.
If you are a Texas veteran dealing with a denied claim, talk to one of the Dallas VA benefits attorneys at Morgan & Weisbrod today. Call our offices today, toll-free, at 800-800-6353. You can also reach us through the online contact form above.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.