Asbestos is the general name for a group of minerals characterized by fine, thin fibers which can easily be inhaled and trapped in the tissues of the body, eventually leading to cancer. During the 20th Century, asbestos-based materials were tremendously popular for their fire-retardant and insulating properties.
In the armed forces, asbestos was utilized broadly aboard ships, in machinery, and in construction materials. During the World War II years and the Cold War, military members were exposed in countless ways to these toxic fibers.
Asbestos Exposure: Navy and Shipbuilding
Members of the Navy and other branches of the armed forces were exposed to asbestos on board military vessels constructed in the early to mid 20th Century. During war time, the risk of fire on board ships was an over-present danger, and asbestos-based fire proofing was used liberally throughout ships and submarines. Ship builders and repair workers were exposed, as were sailors and other troops transported via ship. Asbestos-based pipe insulation snaked through the hulls of ships, often hanging in very close proximity to the bunks of sailors and marines.
Asbestos-based pipe insulation is one of the most dangerous types of asbestos-containing materials, because the type of asbestos used is friable, meaning it crumbles easily and becomes airborne. Although asbestos pipe insulation can be covered to prevent exposure, these steps were not always taken and the close living quarters increased the possibility of exposure.
The largest boom in military shipbuilding occurred during the mid 20th Century, when asbestos use was at its height. Mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer symptoms can take fifty years or more to develop, and many former service members are only now discovering the full impact of their exposure.
Military Armed Forces Asbestos Exposure: Heavy Machinery
During WWII and the post-war years, brakes and clutches on heavy equipment frequently relied upon asbestos-based pads and liners, which would generate dust. (To this day, some brakes still utilize asbestos.) Heavy machinery also frequently included asbestos-based insulation to protect against the large amounts of heat produced. Heavy equipment mechanics and technicians would have been exposed to these toxic fibers on an almost daily basis, increasing their risk of developing asbestos related lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestos Cancer and Veterans: Help is Available
If you or a loved one suffers from an asbestos related cancer due to exposure while serving in the armed services, you may be eligible for compensation. Many veterans choose to seek legal action against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing materials, as well as filing a claim through the VA. Bergman Draper Oslund has veterans on staff who can assist you with the complex VA claims process, as well as identify other parties who may have been responsible for your asbestos exposure. We have obtained over $700 million in successful settlements for asbestos cancer patients like you.
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