During a period stretching all the way from the U.S. military build-up during WWII through the Korean and Vietnam Wars, asbestos could be found in a wide range of military equipment. In fact, several different pieces of military equipment could be considered a potential source of the hazardous substance – everything from vehicle brakes to aircraft engine insulation.
Given that asbestos has been known to lead to mesothelioma almost 10 to 50 years after exposure, many members of past military conflicts – such as the Korean or Vietnam Wars – may still be a risk of developing this horrific form of cancer. Sadly, for many of these service members, they may have made it safely home from their respective wars just to fight another battle against the deadly disease.
In particular, the shipbuilding explosion attributed to WWII led to thousands of sailors being exposed to asbestos as it was used to insulate pipes, gaskets and boilers. Often times, many of these vessels were used by the Navy for decades, only be to subsequently sold into civilian fleets when the military was done with them – thus exposing thousands more sailors to asbestos.
But, Navy ships did not hold a monopoly on asbestos in the military. For instance, the Air Force also used asbestos in aircraft. Given the incredible heat resistant qualities of asbestos, it was often used in various parts of aircraft for fire prevention – such as electrical insulation and engine heat shields.
Unfortunately, asbestos was also sometimes used in Air Force base housing. The dangerous material could be found in floor tile, wall insulation and drywall, among other places. For those service members who lived in these buildings – in addition to those who renovated or made repairs in these buildings – asbestos exposure was a daily possibility.
Furthermore, all military branches used vehicles that may have had asbestos-containing parts such as clutches, brakes and transmission. Tragically, there was little escaping the immeasurable amount of asbestos used in all sorts of past military equipment.
According to a recent study, roughly 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year – meaning this problem is not going away any time soon. Consequently, if you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma following asbestos exposure in the military, it is generally advisable to speak with a skilled and knowledgeable attorney who can help determine what your rights and options may be given your particular situation.