Occupations in the Military with High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was used by Every Branch of the U.S. Military

Over 30 percent of reported mesothelioma cases are among veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces caused by asbestos exposure in Veterans. These reported mesothelioma cases are connected to toxic exposure by asbestos suffered by many service members while serving in the military.

Asbestos was considered the best option for insulation and heat resistance from the 1930s to the 1970s. Even though there are reports showing potential health-related issues due to asbestos exposure as early as the late 1930s, the military continued to use asbestos up until the new regulations beginning in the 1970s. Asbestos was used on ships, vehicles, aircraft, installations, barracks and buildings. The materials used to build and construct them contained asbestos. The asbestos exposure in the military was at its worst when mechanics were working to fix vehicles, when buildings were being maintained and when ships were being refitted. This type of maintenance would disrupt the asbestos and pump asbestos dust and fibers into the air, which in turn would be breathed in by military personnel.

Asbestos use became common during World War II, as the nation turned its manufacturing resources into building planes, tanks, vehicles and ships. The insulation and fire resistance properties of asbestos were the main reason for its use. During the Korean War many of the vehicles, ships, buildings and materials that were used during WWII were again used in Korea and asbestos was used again in the newer military weapons, vehicles, planes and ships.

When the Vietnam War began, once again asbestos was included in a variety of materials used by the military. Not until the 1970s did the military begin to halt asbestos use, but all the vehicles, planes, ships, buildings and barracks that contain asbestos were still used because removing them would would mean disarming and making our military ineffective. The cost effectiveness of asbestos has cost the lives of thousands of veterans.

Why is Asbestos Exposure in the Military Dangerous?

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It can attack the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), the heart (pericardial mesothelioma) and the testicles (testicular mesothelioma). Veterans make up almost 30 percent of all mesothelioma cases due to the amount of asbestos exposure in the military. If you were a veteran and have developed mesothelioma, then we may be able to assist you and explain how you may be able to file a lawsuit.

When a ship was at dock and being worked on, this is when sailors were at the greatest exposure risk because asbestos material was being stripped, cut into and manipulated. This means that asbestos dust and fibers were entering the air in small confined areas.

Navy Veterans
Here are some of the Navy jobs that exposed sailors to asbestos:

  • Boiler Tech
  • Shipbuilder
  • Electrician
  • Pipefitter
  • Welder
  • Machinist
  • Steelworker
  • Seabees
  • Control man
  • Gunners Mate
  • Fireman

If you performed any of the jobs above, then you have a higher chance of developing mesothelioma in the future.

Marine Veterans
Marines faced many of the same exposure risks to asbestos experienced by Navy personnel. The ships, vehicles, aircrafts and barracks that the Marines used contained very high percentages of asbestos material. Marines also utilized Navy ships to travel and transport their vehicles, so they were exposed to the same asbestos as sailors. On land or at sea, Marines were constantly being exposed to asbestos because the many ways in which asbestos was used by the military. On ships it was used as insulation, fire prevention, boilers, gaskets, pipe fittings and much more.

Army Veterans
Almost all Army buildings were constructed to be fire-resistant in case of an attack or accidental fire. Since asbestos was used for this purpose, the buildings in which soldiers worked and lived exposed them to this mesothelioma-causing substance.

Army vehicles made prior to the Vietnam War were the most likely to contain asbestos. Since asbestos has heat resistant properties it was used to make gaskets, brake pads, heating shields and systems and many more parts on these vehicles. If you were an Army mechanic, then chances are that you were exposed to asbestos.

During WWII and military operations in Europe and the Pacific theaters, more than 60,000 aircraft were built in only four years. These aircraft contained asbestos in their engines, cockpits, firewalls and heating systems. Army personnel who flew in the aircraft were exposed to asbestos, and the mechanics who kept the machines running were exposed to asbestos.

Air Force Veterans
Yes, asbestos was used in the construction of U.S. Airforce aircraft. Asbestos was readily used in making brakes, heating systems, heating shields and insulation of engines and planes. If you were a mechanic in the Air Force, then you are at an even higher risk to develop mesothelioma because of your asbestos exposure during your time in the Air Force. Generally, there were no precautions taken by mechanics to protect themselves from asbestos dust and fibers.

The VA (Veterans Affairs) has admitted that veterans suffering from mesothelioma may have developed it because of asbestos exposure during their military service. Many of the companies that manufactured the asbestos-containing materials used by the military have created asbestos trust funds for mesothelioma victims. Speak to a Patient Advocate and see if you may qualify for compensation.

Other Veterans at risk of Asbestos Exposure:  Coast Guard Veterans

Related Pages: