Asbestos Exposure and Veterans
Each year, an estimated 3,300 people are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a rare but virulent type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Of those patients, nearly a third are veterans who were exposed to high levels of toxic dust and fibers while serving on military bases and working on ships or in shipyards.
Durable, light, and corrosion and fire resistant, asbestos appeared to be the perfect material for U.S. military bases. From the 1930s until the late 1970s, it was used to insulate boiler and engine rooms on Navy ships, to line brakes on vehicles and aircraft, and even in some mess halls and military barracks. As a result, service members encountered varying levels of toxic asbestos dust and fibers for more than four decades.