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What Veterans Need to Know About Asbestos Exposure

Posted on 1st November, 2017

by Staff

Nowadays, it is a widely known fact that asbestos is an incredibly toxic material, which when inhaled or ingested, can cause irreparable damage to someone's health. Intensively involved in construction and various industries, asbestos was also used in all military branches.

The Prevalent Usage of Asbestos in the U.S. Military

The armed forces used the mineral extensively from 1935 to 1975 particularly in shipbuilding and general construction due to its heat resistant properties and non-flammable nature. Army bases had buildings filled with asbestos, such as cement mixtures, plumbing systems, sprayed coating, ceiling, and floor cavities.

Asbestos was also used extensively within the U.S. Navy and found in nearly every part of each ship, from bow to stern, putting the people at an increased risk for health concerns. Most of the equipment on the vessels were made of mixtures containing large amounts of asbestos, from boilers to gaskets, valves, pipes and many others. These components had to be regularly inspected and repaired, leading to the inevitable disturbance of asbestos fibers and their release into the air.

Some at-risk occupations within the U.S. military were:

  • Aeronautical engineers
  • Aircraft mechanics
  • Construction workers
  • Insulators
  • Fire control technicians
  • Demolitions specialists
  • Boiler operators
  • Hull maintenance technicians
  • Floor and roofing installers

The Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

After inhalation, asbestos fibers lodge themselves within the lungs, heart or the abdomen irritating them constantly until some form of cancer develops. Exposure to asbestos can also lead to a variety of adverse health conditions including asbestosis, pleural plaques, pulmonary fibrosis, COPD, rounded atelectasis, and diffuse pleural thickening. Asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period, which means the symptoms usually take 20 to 30 years to present from the time someone is initially exposed to asbestos. Illness can often become apparent even decades after exposure meaning that asbestos-related cancers are not diagnosed until advanced stages.

If you have a history of military asbestos exposure a biannual medical examination is a very effective measure against the late diagnosis of a potential asbestos-related condition. Undergoing a chest X-ray and a series of pulmonary function tests is crucial when dealing with any asbestos-related disease to get accurately diagnosed and get proper treatment. Chest X-ray enables visibility of scarred lung tissue and would be recommended to be checked by a B-Reader who is trained and certified in reading asbestos-related lung X-rays.

If veterans can prove that their exposure was service-connected, they may qualify for veterans' benefits. We proudly help veterans who get sick from asbestos exposure during their military service to get access to compensation through asbestos trust funds and VA benefits as well.