Asbestos Use in the Army
The U.S. Army’s use of asbestos-containing products was consistent throughout the 20th century. This versatile mineral found its way into many of the standard materials routinely used by the Army.
The use of products containing asbestos in the Army began in the early 1900s. Over 1,000 production technologies and around 3,000 products contained asbestos at this time.
It was not until the early 1980s that the devastating health effects of asbestos exposure became well known. By this time, the Army had been consistently using these products for over 50 years — the damage had been done.
Though the U.S. Army wasn’t the largest consumer of asbestos during this time (the U.S. Navy held that distinction) soldiers still were put in harm’s way on a regular basis from numerous asbestos products.
Common products that contained asbestos included:
- Brake pads
- Ceiling tiles
- Cement materials
- Flooring tiles
- Other construction materials
Like the rest of the U.S. military, the Army only became aware of the dangers decades after asbestos use was common practice. In reality, the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew that their goods were harmful but hid the truth to keep making money.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes that Army veterans are at a higher risk of asbestos-related diseases today. As a result, veterans can apply for VA benefits to access mesothelioma treatment and receive financial compensation.
Veterans may also qualify for other types of compensation by filing legal claims against the manufacturers who made dangerous asbestos-containing products.
Asbestos Use on Bases
Asbestos could be found in almost every corner of a U.S. Army base during this time. It was a primary component of insulation due to its heat-resistant properties and was, therefore, found in every building on the base.
Its strong and durable nature ensured its widespread use, contaminating entire military bases and putting all personnel at risk of developing devastating lung conditions such as mesothelioma.
Asbestos Use in Vehicles
Army vehicles relied heavily on asbestos-containing products. The critical components of military vehicles have asbestos at their core.
Asbestos-containing parts in Army vehicles include:
- Clutch facings
- Brake linings
- Valves and heat seals
- Transmission parts
If Army vehicles needed repairs, the risk of releasing asbestos particles into the air grew exponentially. Exposure to these airborne asbestos fibers increased one’s chance of inhaling or ingesting them and developing mesothelioma.
How Long Did the Army Use Asbestos Products?
The use of asbestos in the Army lasted from the 1930s to the early 1980s — a considerable period of time that Army personnel found themselves exposed to the deadly mineral.
It was not until 1980 that areas of the military took proper steps to remove asbestos and limit its future use. In 1989, a partial ban was put in place that halted the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution of some asbestos-containing products and banned new asbestos products from entering the market.
This eliminated the use of asbestos-containing products in the Army but not before thousands of Army personnel were already exposed.