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Mesothelioma and Veterans

By now, most people are aware of the risks associated with exposure to asbestos. Asbestos, a mineral once widely used for its insulative properties, is now known to causes an especially dangerous form of cancer called mesothelioma. Although the risks were known to manufacturers for some time, it was only within the last few decades that meaningful changes were implemented to reduce people’s exposure to the deadly carcinogen. For this reason, there are many groups of people that have been exposed to asbestos who may develop mesothelioma. People who worked in mining, shipyard work, construction, demolition, carpentry, manufacturing and installation of flooring, roofing, and insulation products, and many others were routinely exposed to asbestos. Another group that was often exposed is veterans.

What is Mesothelioma?

Before getting into how veterans have been exposed to asbestos, it’s good to understand why exposure is so harmful. Although it’s widely known that asbestos causes mesothelioma, it’s not as widely understood. Mesothelioma is a cancer which develops in the lining of the organs. Every year, 2,500 to 3,000 cases of mesothelioma occur. Most commonly, mesothelioma develops in the lungs, which is known as pleural mesothelioma. The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are pain in the chest, shortness of breath, and unexplained weight loss. Often, lumps will form under the skin of the chest. Although pleural mesothelioma is the most common, there are other forms such as peritoneal mesothelioma, which occurs in the abdomen, and pericardial mesothelioma, which occurs in the heart. In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos causes asbestosis which is a lung disease marked by severe fibrosis, or a thickening and scarring of tissue.

Veterans and Asbestos Exposure

Throughout the decades, the millions of people who have served in the United States armed forces have faced numerous hazards. Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos has been and often continues to be one of them. Tens of thousands of veterans have been diagnosed with some type of asbestos-related disease. Asbestos was used in hundreds of different applications by the military. It’s estimated that between 1930 and 1978, 25 million tons of asbestos were utilized by US shipyards where 4.5 million workers were employed, including members of the military. Even recently, veterans who served in Iraq and other countries were exposed to asbestos when older buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Asbestos and the Navy

Among the five branches of the US military, those serving in the Navy experienced the highest risk of exposure to asbestos. Between World War II and the Korean War, shipbuilding was at its peak. At this time, most were unaware of how dangerous asbestos was. Asbestos was present in many areas of naval ships, including boiler rooms, engine rooms, galleys, and even sleeping quarters. The soldiers and sailors who lived and worked on the ships were susceptible to breathing in asbestos fibers, the workers who built and repaired the ships were even more likely to develop asbestos-related diseases. The Navy posts with the highest risk for exposure to asbestos are:

  • Boiler Tender
  • Boilerman
  • Gunner
  • Fireman
  • Shipfitter
  • Engine Mechanic

Additionally, many people were exposed to asbestos second hand. Spouses and children of people who worked in the Navy have developed mesothelioma because of the asbestos dust on their clothing.

Contact an Experienced Mesothelioma Attorney

If you or a loved one are a veteran of the US Military and have developed mesothelioma, don’t hesitate. Contact the experienced mesothelioma attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield today. We can answer any questions you may have during a free consultation and, if necessary, represent your case at trial. With over 70 collective years of legal and trial experience, Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are here to help.