Asbestos Use In The Military

Branches

Air Force

Chances are high that Air Force veterans were exposed to asbestos during their time of service because asbestos products were used extensively throughout the military branch – both on land and in the air. Asbestos could be found in the floors, ceilings, pipe and wall insulation, drywall, and other areas of Air Force base housing, while the substance was used in aircraft for its qualities of insulation and fire resistance. Air Force veterans are at high risk for asbestos-related diseases due to exposure aboard aircraft. Those that worked on planes and jets used in the Air Force are also at risk for an asbestos-related diagnosis.

Army

Such as in the Air Force, Army base housing was also constructed with many asbestos products. The use of asbestos was common in homes and commercial buildings in America at the time – it only made sense that the Military embraced it as well. When the hazards of asbestos became well-known, the U.S. Army set to clean up the asbestos contained in their buildings and barracks. Unfortunately, Army soldiers are still exposed to asbestos today. Asbestos could also be found in Army vehicles. Brakes, gaskets, and valves were some of the most common asbestos products found in Army vehicles.

Asbestos was used extensively within the United States Navy. Asbestos-containing materials were present all over ships for many different reasons. It was used to insulate boilers, pipes, turbines, pumps, and other heat-sensitive areas in the engine rooms, boiler rooms, weapons and ammunition storage, and even the sleeping quarters of seamen and officers. The close confines of ships containing asbestos made it easy for asbestos fibers to become concentrated. Navy seamen and officers were likely to breathe in large amounts of asbestos fibers when they were sleeping, eating, and serving their country in battle. Those that worked in shipyards were also at serious risk for asbestos exposure, as they handled the materials that were built, repaired, or removed from naval vessels every day.

Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard carries out three basic roles: Maritime safety, security, and stewardship. Equipment used by the Coast Guard to carry out these roles includes vessels known as "cutters," boats, and aircraft including planes and helicopters. This equipment is known to have been constructed with asbestos-containing materials, putting those that occupied and used them at great risk for exposure. When Coast Guard veterans were on board these boats and planes, they were often breathing in asbestos within very confined spaces. Those that lived and worked on land were also at risk for exposure – individuals employed as shipyard workers, electricians, pipefitters, and more handled asbestos-containing materials daily, and occupied living quarters constructed with asbestos.

Marine Corps

Marine Corps veterans are at serious risk for asbestos exposure, since they occupied the same naval vessels as the United States Navy. The extensive use of asbestos-containing materials used as insulation, as well as confined spaces on board ships and aircraft, made it easy for asbestos fibers to be breathed in by Marine Corp personnel. Whether they came into contact directly with asbestos fibers or were exposed second-hand by another individual Marine Corp veterans were likely to have been exposed to the substance which is known to cause several illnesses within victims.

Illnesses

In a recent report by the Environmental Working Group, it was estimated that up to 15,000 individuals die from asbestos exposure every year in the United States. This number includes veterans that have passed away from mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, or a combination of these diseases. While other asbestos-related cancers are believed to be responsible for the death of veterans and other individuals, there is not enough existing data to include within the reporting.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a serious respiratory condition caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Once breathed in by an individual, the fibers are able to penetrate the lung tissue and cause scarring that can restrict breathing. Asbestosis can often lead to other asbestos-related conditions, including mesothelioma.

Many longshoremen and shipbuilders have been affected by asbestosis. In fact, during the 1990's, ship building and repair was the second highest industry specified on United States death certificates of adult asbestosis victims. Those that served in the U.S. Navy are at serious risk for an asbestosis diagnosis. Find Out More Here

Mesothelioma

About one in three mesothelioma victims is a military veteran. Mesothelioma is a rare and fatal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Given that many veterans came into contact with asbestos products during their time of duty, it is not surprising that they are seeing the effects of exposure years or decades after their service.

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Lung Cancer

Many military veterans are diagnosed with lung cancer after exposure to asbestos during their time of service. Not only can asbestos-caused lung cancer develop in the absence of other cancer-causing agents, smoking tobacco combined with exposure can greatly increase a veteran's chance for an asbestos lung cancer disease.

If a veteran has inhaled both asbestos fibers and tobacco smoke, they should alert their doctor to the possibility of a lung cancer diagnosis within their lifetime. It is estimated that 22.2% of veterans in America smoke cigarettes. Given the high rate of asbestos exposure in the military, this puts them at even more at risk for the deadly disease. Find Out More Here