Asbestos and the Military

Navy veterans are particularly at risk for asbestos-related diseases since from 1940-1970, asbestos was used in virtually every part of ships: boilers, adhesives, pipes, flooring, valves, engine parts and pipe coverings. According to one study completed by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, 86% of shipyard workers with more than 20 years’ experience will go on to develop asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.

The risk isn’t just to those building or repairing the ships either. Longshoremen who loaded the ships were also at risk for significant asbestos exposure and those working in shipyards often carried asbestos fibers home on their clothes, putting their families and children at risk of asbestos exposure and future diseases. While the Navy was trying to keep its sailors safe by fireproofing its ships, it did not know that the asbestos it was using would later cause health problems for enlisted men and women as well as their families.

Members of the Army and Marine Corps were also exposed to asbestos. Many military installations built before 1980 contained asbestos tile flooring, asbestos ceiling tiles, asbestos wall insulation, asbestos cement in the foundations of many military buildings, and asbestos in the brake pads of many military vehicles. Thousands of enlisted men and women have been further exposed by the unsafe removal of asbestos products during the demolition of base facilities and shops.

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