Veterans and Asbestos Exposure — Public Service Announcement

Veterans and Asbestos Exposure

A Public Service Announcement

Author:  Douglas Karr


Asbestos, a material used for decades in construction materials for buildings and homes, and for fireproofing items, causes health conditions that can be incurable and life threatening.

The detection of asbestos-related illnesses may take years, which makes it difficult to keep conditions from progressing. However, noticing the symptoms of asbestos-related conditions may prompt individuals who have a history of exposure to see a doctor. One life-threatening condition caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a type of cancer. Symptoms include chest discomfort, breathing problems, night sweats, facial swelling, and coughing. Mesothelioma is only one of the illnesses caused by asbestos inhalation.

People working in the fields of construction and product manufacturing during the years before asbestos was identified as a health hazard were at a high risk for asbestos exposure. Individuals serving in the war, specifically in the mid-1900s through to the 1970s, were at a high risk for exposure since asbestos was commonly used in all military branches.  

Asbestos was used in all branches of the United States military mainly because of its fire-resistant characteristics. In the Navy, one use was pipe insulation. Through this use, as well as others, individuals were exposed to asbestos throughout their time aboard Navy vessels and in shipyards.

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