Veterans are among the most at-risk of developing mesothelioma as there’s a high chance they were exposed to asbestos during their military career. According to asbestos.com, all branches of the military may have been exposed to the deadly material, placing them in danger of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Veterans make up around a third of mesothelioma cases in the U.S. each year.
Due to its fireproof and heat-resistance properties, asbestos was considered an ideal material to use for many buildings, including military bases and barracks. It was also extensively used in the building of warships, planes, and automobiles, meaning that almost all members of the military would have been exposed to asbestos in one way or another during their time of service. Those involved in construction or shipbuilding were particularly at risk.
Veterans who served from 1940 to 1980 are most at risk of asbestos-related diseases. However, it’s possible those who served later may have still been exposed to the toxic material as it took decades to replace buildings and other asbestos-containing products.
Those who served in Afghanistan or Iraq may also have come into contact with asbestos through old buildings that contained the material.
Many of the veterans who are being treated for mesothelioma today were likely to have been exposed to asbestos during the Vietnam or Korean wars in the 1950s and 1960s. This is because mesothelioma can take upwards of 50 years before the symptoms of the disease present.
Asbestos exposure also put military families’ lives at risk. The dust and microscopic fibers of asbestos would cling to clothes and would contaminate the veterans’ homes. Wives of servicemen would be at risk of inhaling the dust as they washed their husband’s uniforms. Although secondary exposure posed less of a risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases than first-hand exposure, it still placed women and children at risk.
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