Did you know that 30% of all mesothelioma sufferers are veterans, according to Asbestos.net? This is because all branches of the US military have used asbestos in some form in the past. Its fire-resistant properties mean it’s a highly useful material for the military. Pleural Mesothelioma being one of the more recurring forms of the disease throughout this demographic. You can read about this variant of the disease over at survivingmesothelioma.com
But why do veterans make up such a large percentage of mesothelioma sufferers? And what can veterans do if they are diagnosed with mesothelioma later in life?
Asbestos as a Material for Military Installations
Asbestos was always so valued within the US military for several reasons. For a start, it’s highly resistant to fire. In a combat zone, this is an incredibly important characteristic.
Furthermore, asbestos itself is a relatively low-cost material that’s easy to install. Therefore, it was commonly found on US naval ships and within military bases across the globe.
This exposure to asbestos meant that many veterans responsible for construction were exposed to the disease. Since mesothelioma has a latency period of up to 50 years, its only now many veterans are being diagnosed.
Furthermore, many veterans are completely unaware they were even exposed to asbestos, so they don’t get the early diagnosis they need. Although mesothelioma has no cure, early detection can prolong a patient’s life by many years.
How Mesothelioma is Contracted
Asbestos is responsible for mesothelioma. The asbestos fibers get into the body and irritate the linings of the lungs and other areas. Over time, this irritation can cause mutations in the cells, which leads to cancer.
When asbestos is undisturbed or in the form of, say, an asbestos board, it’s perfectly harmless. The danger is when the fibers are free to drift around. This is when they’re inhaled.
Asbestos should only be handled when using specialized equipment to protect against this.
The most common causes of asbestos exposure come from ships. Whenever minor levels of asbestos are disturbed, they can become highly concentrated in certain environments. This is especially the case for ships, where sleeping quarters are small and confined.
What Can Veterans Do About This?
Paul Kraus of Surviving Mesothelioma has lived with the disease for 21 years. Despite the progress in treating mesothelioma, there’s currently no cure for the disease. Treatments can only prolong a patient’s life, thus beating cancer and overcoming the odds but never truly getting rid of it.
In the case of veterans, they may not have adequate health insurance. Thankfully, the Veterans’ Association has a range of medical care benefits available. It’s possible to make a claim through your local association for any related mesothelioma treatments.
Last Word – Is Asbestos Still in Use Today?
Despite the US military largely outlawing the use of asbestos in the 1980s, the number of mesothelioma cases among veterans is unlikely to change anytime soon. Asbestos still has uses within the military today.
For example, it’s still used for brakes in military land vehicles and in some types of aircraft.
Do you believe the US military needs to do more to eliminate asbestos usage?