VA Scientist Resigned over Alleged Cover-Up of Burn Pit Danger Data

Friday, March 15, 2013
Steven S. Coughlin

A senior researcher in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) resigned late last year because the agency allegedly concealed information that showed links between veterans’ health problems and the toxic burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other hazards.

 

Epidemiologist Steven S. Coughlin told a congressional panel this week that he quit working in the VA’s Office of Public Health “because of serious ethical concerns” he witnessed.

 

“On the rare occasions when embarrassing study results are released, data are manipulated to make them unintelligible,” Coughlin said in his testimony to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

 

Coughlin’s research focused on the relationship between exposure to burn pits and cases of asthma and bronchitis among Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, including those who fought in the 1991 Gulf War.

 

He said that his superior instructed him not to examine data regarding hospitalizations and doctors’ visits.

 

“When I advised him I did not want to continue as a co-investigator under these circumstances, he threatened me,” Coughlin told lawmakers.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

VA Suppressed Data on Gulf War Vets' Health Problems, Former Official Says (by David Hilzenrath, Project on Government Oversight)

Researcher Alleges VA Covered Up Adverse Consequences To Toxic Exposures (by Steve Vogel, Washington Post)

Leaked Memo Supports Claim that Veterans Imperiled by Burn Pits in Afghanistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Sued over Toxic Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pentagon Keeps Using Them (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

U.S. Army Burn Pit Victim Dies after Battle with Leukemia (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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