If there is one particular occupation that mesothelioma has hit the hardest, it is U.S. Navy veterans. More than 30 percent of the Americans currently diagnosed with mesothelioma were initially exposed to asbestos, its primary cause, during military service. All branches of the military, including the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy, have been affected by asbestos exposure. It is Navy veterans, however, who make up an unusually high number of mesothelioma victims.
Up until the mid-1970s, asbestos was used in the construction of Navy ships and in shipyards where Navy members lived, worked and spent a great deal of time. Asbestos was used by all branches of the military, but it was most popular in the Navy because of its fireproofing abilities – ships and other sea vessels contained engines and boiler rooms that could get extremely hot. It was not just used in boiler rooms and engines, though. Asbestos was also used in the following Navy products and locations:
Because of the massive use of asbestos throughout ships and shipyards, it didn't matter where Navy members spent most of their time. They could be exposed to the toxic fibers below deck, above deck, or even in their bunks.
After the mid-1970s, asbestos was no longer used in the construction of Navy ships. However, ships built prior to this date continued to operate for decades, during which time asbestos exposure among Navy members persisted.
There are numerous Navy shipyards and Naval stations across the country. The San Diego Naval Station is one example where major asbestos exposure occurred among military veterans who later developed mesothelioma.
Through 1945, this naval base housed active ship repair basins. Between 1945 to 1972, those basins were used to dispose debris, solid waste and other materials. Many of the debris and waste did in fact contain asbestos, increasing the danger of exposure among workers at the naval base.
Other sites in California have been linked to asbestos exposure among military members, including the Long Beach Naval Station and Shipyard, California Shipbuilding Company, U.S. Naval Shipyard, Norton Air Force Base, Naval Supply Center, Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco Naval Shipyard, and many more.
It is because of this exposure that many Navy veterans are facing mesothelioma today. There are more than 20 million U.S. veterans living in the United States. With the long latency period associated with mesothelioma, it stands to reason that the disease will continue to claim Navy veteran lives for years to come.
Are you or is your loved one a military veteran who has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma? Learn more about working with a mesothelioma lawyer by exploring more of Nolo's articles on the subject. From there, use Nolo's Lawyer Directory to find a mesothelioma lawyer who is right for you and your family.