What is Deployment-Related Lung Disease?

Military personal and contractors deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other sites in Southwest Asia are at risk for lung disease due to exposure to occupational and environmental factors.


  • Who is at risk?

    Who is at risk?

    More than 3 million current or former military personnel and government contractors deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, or Djibouti since 2001.

  • What are the causes?

    What are the causes?

    Exposures to open-air burn pits; desert dust and sandstorms; industrial fires and emissions; vehicular diesel exhaust; improvised explosive device (IED) blasts; combat dust debris; and temperature and humidity extremes in the desert climate all contribute to deployment-related lung disease.

  • What are deployment-related conditions?

    What are deployment-related conditions?

    Lung conditions linked to deployment include unexplained shortness of breath, upper airway disorders, asthma, eosinophilic syndromes, and small airways disease (e.g. bronchiolitis).

  • What is asthma?

    What is asthma?

    Asthma is inflammation of the airways that causes airflow obstruction that is reversible.

  • What is bronchiolitis?

    What is bronchiolitis?

    Bronchiolitis is an inflammatory obstruction of the lung's tiniest airways. The bronchioles become damaged and inflamed by chemical particles or respiratory infections leading to scarring that blocks the airways.

  • What are eosinophilic syndromes?

    What are eosinophilic syndromes?

    Eosinophilic lung disorders have an increased number of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) in the lungs. These white blood cells may be associated with asthma and allergic inflammation.

  • What is an upper airway disorder?

    What is an upper airway disorder?

    Upper airway disorders include rhinitis/rhinosinusitis or inflammation of the nose and sinuses; and vocal cord dysfunction/inducible laryngeal or shortness of breath caused by abnormal closure of the vocal cords.

  • What is unexplained shortness of breath?

    What is unexplained shortness of breath?

    Dyspnea, or shortness of breath, may be related to respiratory or heart disease, and needs a careful medical evaluation.

  • How deployment-related conditions are diagnosed?

    How deployment-related conditions are diagnosed?

    An individual medical evaluation may include: detailed occupational and medical history; comprehensive physical exam; lung function testing; exercise testing; laryngoscopy; bronchoscopy, chest CT scan; and lung biopsy.

  • Are deployment-related conditions treatable?

    Are deployment-related conditions treatable?

    Our team prepares a personalized treatment plan for each patient based on their lung disease diagnosis and severity. We use the latest evidence-based information to establish a program of treatment and medical follow-up.


This information has been approved by Silpa D. Krefft, MD, MPH, June 2017.