Veterans and Asbestos Exposure
Military servicemen and women deserve our respect. Sadly, though, many veterans were exposed to asbestos throughout their service to the United States. Asbestos was once utilized in many industries from construction to shipyards, although it is now mostly banned. This is because we finally realized the dangers of asbestos exposure.
To fully understand the scope of asbestos usage, it is important to know why it became so popular. While asbestos was used by ancient Greeks and Romans, it fell into uncompletely obscurity until the Industrial dramatical change. With the arrival of hot machinery and rise of electricity, people needed a substance that would insulate against heat and other such things. Asbestos fit that need.
Asbestos is a mineral that is part of the silicate family. The silicates are known for their ability to insulate against different forces. As a silicate, asbestos is resistant to heat, flame, chemicals, electricity, and biodegradation. Additionally, asbestos has some useful characteristics of its own. It is flexible and has high tensile strength, which method that it is easily additional to a number of different materials.
consequently, it’s no surprise that asbestos found such large popularity with the rise of machinery. It found a niche in the construction industry, the automotive business, already the shipyards. It’s because of this last industry that people who served in the United States Navy were exposed to asbestos. Both people who built Navy ships and worked in Navy ships suffered from intense exposure from this material.
Although we now know that this substance is a carcinogen, it was not something recognized by the U.S. armed forces for most of the 20th century. In fact, the government truly ordered the use of asbestos throughout ships in order to protect the crewman from fires and other such accidents on board. However, instead of possibly experiencing from burns or smoke inhalation, these servicemen and women are now at risk for serious cancers like mesothelioma and lung cancer, among others.
Due to the close quarters, poor ventilation, and other containment aspects of ships and submarines, it’s no surprise that asbestos in the air became such a problem. It is when asbestos becomes airborne that it becomes hazardous. From here, people can inhale the microscopic fibers that can become lodged in their lungs. Also, some people can get the fibers in their mouths, which they can then swallow. Ingested fibers can become caught in the esophagus and stomach, contributing to cancers like that of the esophagus and throat.
Unfortunately, many veterans do not have access to the healthcare that they need to treat asbestos-related diseases.