Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version

Fall 2015


Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 2015


Copyright @ 2015 Kaylee Wheeler


The United States has been in the war against terrorism for the past 14 years in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a country torn by war for hundreds of years which has impacted the landscape and the environment. The economy of Afghanistan has suffered as a result and the country is classified as an underdeveloped country, but the economy is gaining on a slow increase. There is still little enforcement on the environmental regulations resulting in thousands of Afghani deaths every year from poor air quality. The United States has contributed to the poor air quality by using open burn pits to dispose of trash and fecal matter. As a result, service members are returning home with new respiratory conditions that they did not have prior to deployment to Afghanistan. The DOD and the VA have done little in supporting the returning soldiers by not accepting that the poor air quality has made a negative impact on their respiratory system. There have been several studies done in support of the effects of breathing the toxics in Afghanistan but because of the insignificant difference between deployed personnel and non-deployed personnel respiratory symptoms, more precise studies will have to be conducted. Resources will need to be more readily available for the returning soldiers so we can avoid the problems we ran into when acknowledging and treating Gulf war-era soldiers exposed to Agent Orange.