Asbestos, known before as the miracle fiber, was a cheap and durable mineral widely used up until the late 20th century, when its harmful aspects were first identified. Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber known for its strength, durability, insulation, and most of all, fire-proof nature.
Its presence in all of our daily-life aspects, including in schools, industries, domestic buildings and even military operations, was pervasive and inescapable.
People back then, however, were totally unaware of the risks its use involved. Later, when research into the so-called miracle fiber linked and identified it as the primary cause for the terminal cancer, mesothelioma, did its use become restricted and even illegal.
Decades of asbestos use in various industries meant that a great number of people were inadvertently exposed to the harmful effects of this material. The amount of asbestos exposure faced depended on the nature and location of the jobs people worked.
Military members who served during and up until the 1980s, when asbestos use was acceptable, bore the brunt of the exposure when they contracted the mesothelioma cancer years after their service ended.
There is a correlation among military veterans and mesothelioma, cases of which are increasingly being reported in those service members who served in the military before the 1980s.
Asbestos was used in making cloth since 2500 B.C. Its commercial manufacture in the United States started in the late 1800s. Asbestos was not used in the production of fashionable apparel for common folk, but widely used in the making of protective uniforms for firefighters, industrial employees, military soldiers and commercial workers.
Asbestos Exposure in the Military
Asbestos is a proven carcinogen, but unaware of the fact at the time, it was widely used by the military. However, the true detrimental effects of the mineral were only later discovered, but by then it was too late, and many generations of people and their families had already been exposed to it.
The truth about the harmful consequences of asbestos was revealed in the 1970s when its use in manufacturing was uncovered and then later researched. After they were made aware of the dangers involved in dealing with the mineral, the manufacturers, who marketed products to the military and other businesses, continued to sell products containing asbestos.
The veterans were exposed to asbestos in a number of ways. Asbestos exposure among the field soldiers was comparatively rare, as asbestos compounds that were enclosed and stable posed less of a health risk.
Army troops who dealt directly with asbestos-containing products were at the greatest risk of being exposed. From the navy, army, to even air force and coast guards, all could have been exposed in some service capacity or the other.
The highest-risk group of them all was the United States Corps of Army Engineers, which is tasked with construction. The disease-causing airborne fragments, shards, or fibers are released when sanding, cutting, drilling, sawing and installing asbestos-containing items in construction work.
Hence, construction workers and carpenters, demolition and renovations specialists, insulators and firefighters, working in the buildings were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis, putting them at a significantly higher risk than regular soldiers.
Asbestos was also found in considerable quantities at army installations, barracks, buildings, and in the vehicles used by the military. When making contact with insulation, roof tiles, cement flooring, and piping, veterans may have been exposed to hazardous fibers.
The material was used to construct a majority of the Air Force’s structures. Asbestos was found in ceiling insulations, walls, and even in floor tiles in buildings and barracks. Materials such as aircraft brake systems, gaskets, and engine valves also used asbestos which came into contact with the Air Force mechanics.
Asbestos was used in every branch of the military, with the US Navy members and their families, as well as the shipyard employees and their families, facing the greatest risk of exposure.
Asbestos was found in the insulation and paint used on ships. Thousands of sailors and crew members inhaled the dust from boiler and engine rooms on Navy ships, which were generally dirty, congested and small.
Asbestos was found in the insulation and plumbing pipes of naval ships and buildings, too. Sleeping quarters, mess halls, and boiler and engine rooms were all places where Marines were exposed to the carcinogen. Marines living and working near Navy shipyards, which had the highest amounts of the mineral, were also affected.
It’s highly likely that the service members who were directly exposed to asbestos also then exposed their families to the harmful mineral by coming in contact with them. The minuscule threads could easily attach to the clothing, hair, and skin of those who dealt with the carcinogen on a daily basis and carried it home with them. The families were also at a significant risk of developing the cancer once exposed to the dangerous mineral. This type of exposure is referred to as ‘indirect’ or ‘secondary’ exposure.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, and abdomen. Rapid, uncontrolled tumor cell development that affects the functioning of the lungs and other vital organs are characteristic effects of mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, Tumor Treating Fields, and multimodal therapy, which is a combination of two or more of these treatments, are all used in treating mesothelioma. Immunotherapy, gene therapy, and phototherapy are among the experimental medicines available in clinical research trials.
The people exposed to the diseases caused by asbestos exposure are entitled to legal help. The people who were exposed to asbestos in the military should go to centers offering legal help to veterans who have developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos while working in the military.
Manufacturers, construction companies, and industries who make use of asbestos are being held for liable in US courts for their continued use of the mineral despite severe health risks involved, which they were made aware of.
The legal firms and consultancies taking up the asbestos exposure cases on behalf of the victims are making the reality of the horrific mesothelial cancer known. It’s encouraging other asbestos exposure victims to step forward.
The compensations owed by these veterans and other professionals like them who were wrongfully exposed to asbestos cannot give them their health back, as the disease is incurable, but it does offer some help in terms of compensation for the medical bills for treatments.
The military and other industries were drawn to asbestos use during the twentieth century because of its insulating properties that made it a great fire and heat resistor. Before they could have known any better, the damage had been done, and the military personnel serving their country in those times now suffer the consequences of asbestos exposure. As the disease takes up to 20 years, in some cases at least, to show its effects, the verdict on its use was delayed. The companies and industries that still allowed its use, despite evidence pointing to its harmful effects, are liable to pay compensations and the medical bills for the victims.