Skip to Content

Toxic Exposure Screening: Myths and Facts

Debunk these common myths

A patient and their doctor review paperwork in an exam room.VA launched toxic exposure screening nationwide in 2022 as part of the PACT Act. Since then, millions of Veterans have had their screening. But there are still many misconceptions about what it is. Let’s start with the basics.

What is the toxic exposure screening?

The screening typically happens during routine health care appointments. It only takes an average of 5-10 minutes. You and a VA clinician will talk about toxic exposures you may have had during your military service. The clinician may connect you to more support and resources if you answer “yes.”

If you’re enrolled in VA health care, you’ll receive the screening at least once every 5 years. If you’re unsure if exposures happened, your care team will offer the screening every year. This allows them to ensure your health hasn’t been affected.

During your military service, you may have experienced several types of possible exposures. These include open burn pits, Agent Orange, radiation, and others. Please view this map or visit this website to learn more about known potential exposures.

Now let’s talk about some common misconceptions, or myths, about the screening.

Myth or Fact?

Here are some common myths around the screening and the facts to debunk them.

Myth #1: The toxic exposure screening is a comprehensive exam.

Fact #1: Getting your screening starts a conversation about your exposure concerns. This way your health care team can consider any future symptoms alongside your exposure history. No diagnostic tests or physical exams happen as part of the screening. Still, discussing potential exposures may lead to early diagnosis of exposure-related conditions.

Myth #2: Getting a toxic exposure screening could change your VA disability compensation.

Fact #2: The screening doesn’t play a role in determining VA disability rating or compensation. Suppose you report an exposure during your screening. You’ll be offered information on related benefits, registry exams, and clinical resources. You’ll also get information on how to file a claim.

Myth #3: The toxic exposure screening provides legal and medical verification of exposure.

Fact #3: You won’t receive any legal or medical verification of exposure as part of the screening. However, your response will be added to your VA medical record. Exposure concerns will then be included as a key part of your care across your lifetime. This is called exposure-informed care.

Myth #4: The screening is only for older Veterans.

Fact #4: The screening is for all Veterans enrolled in VA health care regardless of age. If you’re not enrolled, apply now.

Myth #5: You don’t need the screening if you’ve already joined a VA environmental health registry.

Fact #5: The toxic exposure screening isn’t part of VA’s environmental health registries. And it doesn’t serve as a registry evaluation. Learn about the differences between registries and the screening.  

Myth #6: You don’t need to get your toxic exposure screening if you’re already service-connected.

Fact #6: No matter your service-connection status, the screening helps make your exposure concerns a focus of your health care. This allows your health care team to provide exposure-informed care throughout your lifetime.

You can ask about the toxic exposure screening at your next VA health care appointment. If you don’t have an upcoming appointment, you can use Secure Messaging to request a screening. For more information about the PACT Act, visit

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.