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Some veterans may be at risk of developing Mesothelioma
Some Army veterans, were susceptible to suffering from asbestos exposure during their tour of duty.
While the majority of Army veterans, in general, did not spend time aboard ships which have a higher rate
of exposure, they did spend considerable time in government constructed military installations and
vehicles that were built using asbestos containing materials prior to the 1970’s. As a result, many Army
veterans may have been exposed to high levels of asbestos and today, they could be at risk for
developing the asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma.
Where Army Veterans Were Exposed to Asbestos
Many of the buildings on Army bases, including sleeping barracks, mess halls, ammunition storage facilities
and training facilities, to name a few, were built with products that contained asbestos. In 2010 I was moved
out of a Barracks in South Korea that had asbestos so there are still buildings in use that could place Some
Soldiers at risk. The primary purpose for the use of asbestos containing products in the construction of
military installations was to provide insulation and protection from fire and extreme heat. Examples of the
types of products used in buildings include flooring and flooring tiles, wall insulation, ceiling tiles and
asbestos cement and siding.
Even though the use of asbestos was eventually banned in the United States there are many military
installations existing today that were built well before that point in time. As a result, there may be extra
building materials stored in the facilities. Because it may not be entirely clear whether or not these
materials contain asbestos, those asked to work with them may know to take necessary safety precautions.
Asbestos exposure doesn’t affect soldiers alone. If there are asbestos hazards in Army housing, for
example, a soldier’s entire family may suffer from asbestos exposure placing everyone at risk for
developing an asbestos related disease.
Military vehicles were also manufactured with asbestos containing products. Brakes, gaskets and insulation
were the primary asbestos containing materials used and were present in virtually every military vehicle
made including combat and transport vehicles and tank transporters. Soldier mechanics assigned to
maintaining and repairing these vehicles were placed at risk of being exposed to asbestos especially when
working on brakes or replacing gaskets.
While these individuals were placed at risk for experiencing direct exposure to asbestos, their families may
have been at risk for second hand asbestos exposure. This is because airborne asbestos fibers, which are
what can become trapped in lungs and eventually cause Mesothelioma, can also become trapped on hair
and clothing. Military mechanics working on vehicles with asbestos parts may have unknowingly brought
asbestos fibers home on their clothes or hair to their family members who were then susceptible to
breathing it in. This placed their loved ones at risk for developing Mesothelioma as well.