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Mesothelioma and Veterans


Approximately 30% of all mesothelioma diagnoses in the U.S. consist of men and women who served in the armed forces

Asbestos exposure is the only cause of each type of mesothelioma. Those who served in any branch of the United States Armed Forces—Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard may have been exposed during their service. The U.S. military actively used asbestos from the early 1900s to the mid-1970s. However due to the still-existent abundance of asbestos in other countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria the likelihood of additional cases are highly probable.

Asbestos was viewed as a prized mineral to the U.S. armed forces because of its practical properties including:

  • Resistance to evaporation in water
  • Unsurpassed thermal and electrical resistance
  • Its ability to be stretched exceeds steel
  • Lack of scent
  • Very economical

Which Armed Forces branch has the highest number of veterans exposed to Asbestos?

Navy veterans have been the hardest hit with mesothelioma diagnoses due to an elevated exposure rate to the dangerous mineral on military vessels and in shipyards.

The Navy jobs with a strong likelihood to asbestos exposure include:

  • Shipyard workers
  • Military vessels workers
  • Vessel engine room workers
  • Vessel engine mechanics
  • Boiler technicians
  • Engine technicians
  • Workers in the naval construction force

How Were Veterans Serving in Other Branches of the U.S. Military Exposed to Asbestos?


Many of the men and women who served in the Army did not realize that a lot of the base buildings were infested with asbestos—sleeping quarters, canteens, and military training facilities to name a few. The majority of bases built in the 40s through the 70s used asbestos products during the construction process. The insulation and fire/heat resistance properties of this dangerous mineral were at one time regarded as essential and necessary.

Army base building elements that may have contained asbestos include:

  • Floors
  • Tile
  • Exterior siding
  • Cement
  • Drywall
  • Insulation
  • Roofing

Air Force

Not only were Air Force veterans exposed to asbestos on their bases, but on their planes as well. Asbestos based materials were often used to build military aircraft.

Occupations at risk for asbestos exposure include:

  • Airplane mechanics/repairman
  • Airplane electricians
  • Boiler workers
  • Welders

 Coast Guard

The coast guard was not immune to the military’s liberal use of asbestos in the 20th century. Because of its proven durability and fire resistance capabilities, it was used in nearly everything on the vessels used by the Coast Guard. All locations by engine and boiler rooms were insulated with asbestos due to the potential of fire hazards.

Asbestos was also often used in the construction of the following materials commonly found and used on coast guard vessels:

  • Pumps
  • Turbines
  • Gaskets
  • Ropes
  • Pipes
  • Plumbing
  • Insulation


The Marines were not immune to the risk of asbestos exposure during the 20th Century. Beginning in World War II, Marines were often transferred to other destinations by Navy military vessels which were jammed with the toxic mineral. Like all U.S. military branches, the Marines were also exposed to the mineral while sleeping, eating and working on their assigned military bases.

 Is asbestos a concern for those who served in the U.S. military after the mid-1970s?

Yes. There are countries that have not banned the use of asbestos including Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran. All branches of the military who serve time in any of the countries that still use asbestos are at risk for developing mesothelioma and other related asbestos-related diseases including:

  • Asbestosis—caused by the inhalation of asbestos particles. Patients suffer severe fibrosis and have an extremely high chance of developing pleural mesothelioma
  • Lung cancer—this type of cancer can develop if asbestos is embedded in the lung
  • Non-malignant pleural (lung) diseases

What are the legal rights of a veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases?

Funds are available to U.S. veterans who suffer with mesothelioma due to the exposure of asbestos they were subjected to while serving their country. 1-800-LAW-FIRM has over 30 years of experience getting justice and compensation for veterans and their families. Our team has extensive knowledge about this horrific disease and the resources to help veterans and their families get what they need to brave this devastating diagnosis.

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