When you choose to wear the uniform, you also choose to accept a level of risk to your life. You know you may be placed in harm’s way to defend the United States of America and her interests. But you may also have been placed at risk of dangers which were never part of the bargain, threatening your long-term health well beyond the end of your service time.
What is amosite asbestos?
Asbestos itself is a naturally occurring mineral, mined for its use in many different products. It comes in a number of forms, one of which is amosite asbestos. Also known as ‘brown asbestos’, amosite is one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos. It was mined primarily in South Africa and is distinguished by its sharp, needle-like points which are easily inhaled.
Amosite was used extensively in the construction and maintenance of U.S. Navy ships. Because of its resistance to heat and corrosion, amosite formed the basis of shipboard insulation for decades. Its usage as pipe insulation became ubiquitous, particularly in spaces like engine rooms, but it could be found anywhere pipes, pumps or valves existed. Nowhere aboard ship was safe.
Because amosite particles are too small to see with the naked eye, they’re impossible to avoid. Any maintenance activity around the asbestos could free the particles into the air, where they were then breathed in by the crew. Once inhaled, the particles begin scarring the lung tissue, eventually resulting in everything from difficulty breathing to mesothelioma.
It can take decades for health problems to appear following asbestos exposure. And although the use of amosite asbestos is now severely restricted, the Veteran’s Administration still recognizes it as an ongoing problem which must be dealt with. If you suspect you were exposed to asbestos during your time in the Navy, speak with your doctor to assess any impact it may have had upon your health.