Asbestos was widely used across the United States military from the 1930s through the 1970s. As a result, many veterans who served during that time may have been exposed to its harmful effects and developed mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related diseases. Veterans that served later than the 1970s may also be at risk if they worked around remaining asbestos in buildings, ships, and aircraft. The veterans with the highest level of risk were those whose job it was to handle asbestos products daily.
Asbestos was desired during that time for its heat, chemical, and fire-resistant properties. These qualities were ideal to protect electric wiring, piping, brake pads, boilers, and more. Asbestos also was used in building insulation, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and throughout ships, aircraft, and other armored vehicles. Even veterans who didn't work directly with asbestos products could have been exposed, as it was used in sleeping quarters, mess halls, and other military buildings.
While every branch of the military had some level of exposure to asbestos, there are some that used it more than others. Those in the United States Navy had the highest level of risk, with the Marine Corps not far behind.
Veterans Make Up a Third of Mesothelioma Patients
Veterans account for 33% of all mesothelioma patients, with Navy veterans having the highest risk of developing it. The Navy used asbestos heavily, as they had many ships and underwater vessels that benefited from its water-resistant and fireproofing qualities. Unfortunately, this resulted in many veterans developing mesothelioma.