Asbestos Exposure and Veterans The men and women who proudly served in the United States military risked their lives to defend our freedom. We might say that the dangers they faced were obvious, but there was a hidden risk that not many veterans were aware of – the threat of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, also known as asbestos cancer. Asbestos was widely used as an insulator in a number of structures prior to the first asbestos regulations in the 1980s, and veterans may have been exposed to asbestos in a variety of ways while serving in the military. Many people think that naval ships were the only place where veterans could have been exposed, but they would be wrong. Asbestos may have been present within military aircraft and base housing, as well as in armories and certain forms of artillery. If asbestos‐containing materials were damaged or disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers could be released into the air, putting military personnel at risk of inhalation. If inhaled, the fibers could cling to the lining of the lungs for decades before an individual might begin to suffer from common mesothelioma symptoms, including shortness of breath and chronic cough. Mesothelioma cancer has a latent period of between 20 and 50 years, so veterans who served in WWII and subsequent conflicts may be predisposed to mesothelioma cancer but not even know it yet. If you are a veteran who suspects that you may have been exposed to asbestos, it is advisable to consult with a doctor. Mesothelioma has no cure, and the majority of patients will surrender to this aggressive form of cancer in less than 2 years following their diagnosis. The Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center is the web’s leading resource for information related to veterans & asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Please visit www.maacenter.org for further information.
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