Asbestos Exposure Among Navy, Air Force, and Army Veterans
From naval ships, to aircraft carriers, to army barracks, asbestos use remained the popular building material for nearly 50 years in the military, which resulted in asbestos exposure among thousands upon thousands of military personnel. Its widespread use in this industry, coupled with the long latency period between initial asbestos exposure and illness, has resulted in veterans accounting for 30 percent of all mesothelioma deaths.
The fire-proofing and insulating capabilities of asbestos made it a popular material in the Navy as it was a critical part of the industry and infrastructure. With the events of World War II and the Vietnam War, military vessels were needed by the thousands to protect the country. From building and construction, to maintenance and repair, with so many people working with and using the carcinogen, asbestos exposure was imminent. One of the main areas where asbestos could be found was in the boiler room, which used asbestos for insulation on pipes, gaskets, and valves. Asbestos-containing materials were used in the construction of navy ships until the mid-1970s and could be found in the engine rooms, sleeping quarters, mess halls, and navigation rooms. Its countless uses make the Navy the most affected branch of the military by asbestos exposure.
From on the base to in the aircraft, asbestos could be found among most areas of the Air Force. The risk of exposure today is minimal; however, many Air Force veterans remain at risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis. Asbestos was used throughout the construction of many aircrafts, and could be found in engines, brakes, gaskets, and electrical components. Aircraft mechanics that installed and repaired these various components are the most at risk today, since they would have disturbed the asbestos fibers, causing them to become friable and airborne. On the bases, barracks were heavily constructed with asbestos, especially around the time of the Vietnam and Korean Wars. Construction workers who built these barracks were the most likely to have been exposed, as it was used in piping and insulation, drywall, ceiling and floor tiles, and joint compounds. As the dangers of asbestos became known and studies proved a connection between asbestos and lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, asbestos ceased being used in the Air Force by the late 1970s and the carcinogen was replaced shortly thereafter.
Along with the Navy and the Air Force, asbestos use was common in the Army between the 1930s and 1970s. Its heat resistance made it a popular building material for barracks, but was also used in transport vehicles, construction work, mechanical work, and demolition projects. While asbestos is no longer used in the Army today, U.S. soldiers continue to be at risk for exposure because of current military presence in the Middle East. Asbestos remains prominent in their infrastructure and with buildings damaged during warfare, asbestos fibers are released in the air and soldiers are exposed.
The latency period between asbestos exposure and illness can be anywhere from 15 – 50 years, resulting in many military veterans developing asbestos-related diseases decades after their service. At Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., we understand that time spent in the military for men and women played an integral part of their lives – one that could potentially be tarnished by asbestos exposure from decades ago could result in fatal respiratory diseases, along with cancers of the colon and throat. At GPW, we have represented mesothelioma and lung cancer victims throughout the country, giving our clients the personal attention he or she deserves, all while having the manpower to take on large corporations. If you are suffering from an asbestos-related disease, we urge you to contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.