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Environmental Hazards Exposure

Definition Environmental Hazards Exposure, in the context of VA benefits, refers to a veteran’s contact with harmful substances or adverse conditions during their military service. This exposure may include contaminants such as Agent Orange, asbestos, or ionizing radiation. As a result, affected veterans might develop health problems and qualify for associated benefits. Key Takeaways Environmental […]


Environmental Hazards Exposure, in the context of VA benefits, refers to a veteran’s contact with harmful substances or adverse conditions during their military service. This exposure may include contaminants such as Agent Orange, asbestos, or ionizing radiation. As a result, affected veterans might develop health problems and qualify for associated benefits.

Key Takeaways

  1. Environmental Hazards Exposure refers to veterans being exposed to dangerous or harmful environmental factors during their military service, which may have led to detrimental health effects.
  2. Common examples of Environmental Hazards Exposure include Agent Orange, radiation, Gulf War Syndrome, and contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
  3. Veterans affected by Environmental Hazards Exposure may be eligible for various VA benefits, including disability compensation, healthcare services, home loans, and educational assistance, as well as specialized support for their dependents and survivors.


The term “Environmental Hazards Exposure” is important in the context of VA benefits because it refers to the potential exposure of veterans to harmful environmental substances or situations during their service, which may lead to long-term health issues.

This term is crucial as it highlights the responsibility of the Department of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge and address these health concerns, and to provide appropriate compensation and medical care for veterans who have been affected by such exposures.

Examples of such hazards include exposure to Agent Orange, contaminated drinking water, radiation, and toxic chemicals.

By recognizing Environmental Hazards Exposure, the VA aims to support veterans in obtaining the necessary care and compensation they deserve as a result of their service and sacrifices.


The purpose of Environmental Hazards Exposure as a part of VA benefits is to recognize and support veterans who have been exposed to various harmful environments during their military service. This aims to address health issues and disabilities that might arise as a consequence of their exposure to hazardous elements or situations. The VA acknowledges that several veterans have encountered various toxic substances, radiation, or other environmental hazards while serving their country, which may result in long-term health repercussions.

By providing disability benefits, healthcare, and support, the VA ensures that these individuals receive the necessary assistance to cope with the impact of such exposure on their lives. The Environmental Hazards Exposure aspect of VA benefits is utilized to determine the eligibility and extent of assistance offered to veterans. This ensures that those who have experienced exposure to these dangerous environments have their medical needs addressed adequately and receive adequate compensation if their health has been adversely affected.

To facilitate this, the VA maintains a list of specific environmental hazards, deployments, and certain occupations that have been identified as posing significant risks to service members. Once a veteran’s exposure is verified and known to be service-related, they can begin accessing the appropriate benefits, which can include compensation, healthcare support, and even vocational rehabilitation services. This comprehensive approach seeks to alleviate the burden on veterans who have made sacrifices for their country while also safeguarding their health and well-being in the long term.

Examples of Environmental Hazards Exposure

Agent Orange Exposure during the Vietnam War: Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military used a herbicide mixture known as Agent Orange to destroy enemy cover and food supply in Vietnam War. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or other locations where these herbicides were used may be eligible for certain VA benefits. Health issues related to Agent Orange exposure include various types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease.

Gulf War Illness: Veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War from 1990 to 1991 may have been exposed to a variety of environmental hazards. These include smoke from oil well fires, contaminated food and water, and the use of depleted uranium in munitions. As a result, some Gulf War Veterans may suffer from unexplained chronic health problems known collectively as Gulf War Illness or Gulf War Syndrome. Symptoms may include fatigue, joint pain, digestive issues, and cognitive problems. Veterans experiencing these issues may be eligible for benefits and healthcare through the VA.

Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune: Between 1953 and 1987, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, was contaminated with industrial solvents and other harmful chemicals. Veterans and their families who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more during this period may have an increased risk of developing certain health conditions. These conditions include leukemia, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and liver damage. Affected individuals may be eligible for VA benefits and healthcare services to address these health problems.

FAQ: VA Benefits for Environmental Hazards Exposure

What are environmental hazards and how may they affect veterans?

Environmental hazards are potentially harmful substances, conditions, or situations encountered during military service. These hazards could range from exposure to chemicals and toxins to extreme temperatures. Veterans exposed to these hazards may experience various short-term and long-term physical and mental health effects.

What types of environmental hazard exposures are recognized by the VA?

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes several types of environmental hazard exposures, including Agent Orange, Radiation, Gulf War Service (including burn pits), Project SHAD/112, and Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River water contamination. Each of these exposures has specific eligibility criteria for related VA benefits and services.

How can I determine if I was exposed to environmental hazards during my military service?

You can determine if you were exposed to environmental hazards during your military service by reviewing your service records, medical records, and by speaking with fellow service members who served with you. Additionally, you can consult the VA’s resources, such as the VA’s Environmental Health Registry Evaluations, which are designed to track illnesses related to specific exposures.

What benefits are available for veterans exposed to environmental hazards?

Veterans exposed to environmental hazards may be eligible for a variety of VA benefits, such as health care, disability compensation, and other supportive services. Benefits eligibility depends on the type of exposure and the health conditions related to that specific exposure. Additionally, veterans may receive support for the family, such as education assistance, survivor benefits, and home loans.

How do I apply for VA benefits related to environmental hazard exposure?

To apply for VA benefits related to environmental hazard exposure, you can submit a claim online through the eBenefits portal or mail the required forms to your local VA regional office. You should also include supporting documentation, such as medical records, service records, and any other information that shows a connection between your exposure and your current health condition. If you need assistance, you can contact a VA representative or a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) to guide you through the process.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Agent Orange Exposure
  • Asbestos Exposure
  • Ionizing Radiation Exposure
  • Gulf War Syndrome
  • Contaminated Drinking Water Exposure

Sources for More Information

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