Published: May 25, 2011 10:57 PM EDT
Updated: May 25, 2011 9:32 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla.-  After two tours in Iraq, Cape Coral resident Ryan Hernandez has to stay on top of his health. He already has partial loss of hearing after his job as a gunner. Now he's wondering if his lungs are next.

"I've heard there's members getting benefits because the smoke inhalation has messed up their lungs. It's not exactly good to breath in," said Hernandez.

He watched for months as soldiers burned trash on the base, thick black smoke billowing into the air. There's no trash pick up in remote parts of Iraq and Afghanistan so they don't have much of a choice.

Now a new study suggests those burn pits are making soldiers sick. The research says soldiers are eight times more likely to breathing problems after exposure. Doctors warn the danger is real.

Now Senator Bill Nelson is leading an effort to outlaw them overseas too. His office wrote a letter to the department of defense to come up with a safer way to dispose trash on military bases.

It comes after Spring Hill resident Bill McKenna died earlier this year and his doctors say his death was directly related to burn pits during his tour of duty.

It's a scary warning for veterans like Hernandez who don't know if or when they'll have to deal with the same health problems down the road.