Veterans and Mesothelioma
For much of the 20th century, the highly versatile and heat-resistant mineral known as asbestos was used in various industries across the country. Although many of the asbestos-material manufacturers and the companies that bought their products knew about the dangers of asbestos exposure, they continued to use the substance for numerous purposes on their jobsites. Asbestos use continued well into the 1970s and in some sectors, asbestos was still used in the early 1980s. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only banned the use of asbestos on new construction, which meant that many of the buildings, ships and more constructed prior to the ban did not have to remove the asbestos they contained.
How Asbestos Affects Veterans
Since asbestos can be molded into virtually any shape and is able to not only resist high heat but hazardous chemicals as well, many industries found plenty of use for the mineral. For the most part, asbestos-containing materials were used to insulate certain equipment and machinery throughout the worksite. One industry that experienced heavy use of asbestos-related materials was the shipbuilding industry. Shipyards were one of the places laden with asbestos throughout different areas, including the ships themselves.
On the shipyards, asbestos was used in the protective clothing worn by the workers, in the pipes and boilers throughout the buildings onsite and in other areas. Asbestos-containing materials could be found throughout the ships, including:
- Flooring coverings
The properties found in asbestos made the mineral perfect for insulating boilers aboard vessels, hydraulic assemblies, grinders and more. Initially meant to protect those aboard in case a fire broke out, which tended to occur on the sea and in battle, the insulation caused more harm than good. Many of the shipyards did maintenance and even helped build military vessels, which put Navy personnel and soldiers at risk for exposure to asbestos.
But the Navy was not the only branch of the military affected by the use of asbestos. The Army used asbestos-containing materials in the mess halls, barracks, bases and more. Air Force bases used roofing products, concrete additives and more, all laden with asbestos-containing materials. Just as many of the shipyards serviced the Navy, they did so as well for the Marine Corp. The sleeping quarters, mess halls, boiler rooms and more aboard Marine ships all contained asbestos.
Exposure and Help
When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed or damaged, the mineral becomes friable and subsequently releases tiny particles into the air. These particles are hazardous to humans if ingested or inhaled, as they embed themselves in the coating of vital organs such as the lungs and eventually turn cancerous. Mesothelioma (often called asbestos cancer) and lung cancer are some of the diseases those exposed to asbestos exposure may develop.
Military veterans from all branches were likely exposed to asbestos either on the ships, shipyards or bases. Common symptoms of mesothelioma include severe cough, fever, difficulty swallowing and more.
If you or someone you know is a veteran, you have legal rights to seek compensation from those that put you at risk. See a physician immediately if you believe you have been exposed in order to get proper treatment. Fill out our form to find out more about mesothelioma and your rights.