"We'll just have to see," Dean said.
And he's not alone.
The National Academy of Sciences recently issued its report on the long-term health consequences of these burn pits which the U.S. military routinely uses in combat field operations to get ride of waste--everything from care packages to lithium batteries.
Dean was around his share of those pits as a Marine platoon commander during the invasion of Kuwait.
"They would burn 24/7, you know, day and night," he said.
Now working at a fish hatchery in Hot Springs, Dean says his health issues do not stem from exposure to the burn pits but the academy report says additional studies are warranted.
Dr. Matthew Jennings at the veterans hospital in Little Rock said the agency does not know how many former service members might be ill from exposure and more data is needed to pinpoint possible trends.
The military phased out its burn pits in Iraq by Dec. 31, 2010 but they are still in operation in Afghanistan with as many as 197 as of January 2011.