High-Risk Asbestos Exposure Areas in the U.S. Marines
While anyone who served in the Marine Corps when asbestos was still in use could have been exposed, some were in more danger than others.
Below, see what locations and jobs put Marine Corps veterans at the highest risk of asbestos exposure.
The Marine Corps falls under the U.S. Department of the Navy, and Marines were often assigned to U.S. Navy ships for missions.
Marine Corps veterans who served on these Navy vessels had a higher risk of asbestos exposure since the Navy used more asbestos than any other military branch.
Asbestos-containing products could be throughout Navy ships for fire resistance, insulation, and soundproofing.
Those at the highest risk of exposure were stationed in:
- Boiler rooms
- Propulsion rooms
- Engine rooms
Those that worked below deck, where poor ventilation made it easy to breathe in the asbestos fibers, also had a high risk of exposure. Even mess halls and sleeping quarters put people at risk since they were so cramped.
Marine Corps and Coast Guard ships were also built with many asbestos materials before the health risks were widely known.
Other than serving on the Navy ships themselves, Marines were often assigned to work in Navy shipyards. Marines assigned to build and repair ships in a shipyard would have been exposed to many asbestos-containing products.
Those with a high risk of exposure worked with:
- Fireproofing materials
Even Marines who did not directly work on the ships — but still served in the shipyards — could have been exposed since the work often sent asbestos fibers flying into the air. Anyone who inhaled these microscopic fibers could be at risk of mesothelioma later in life.
Marine Corps Bases and Barracks
Asbestos was frequently used to make military bases more sturdy, soundproof, and fire-resistant. Since the material was so versatile, it was used in dozens of construction and building products.
Asbestos-containing products used on Marine Corps bases included:
- Floor and pipe coverings
- Roofing materials
The following bases used asbestos in their building materials:
- Camp H.M. Smith, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Aiea, Hawaii
- Henderson Hall, Arlington, Virginia
- Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.
- Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Havelock, North Carolina
- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Iwakuni, Japan
- Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Miramar, California
- Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Yuma, Arizona
- Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Twentynine Palms, California
- Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina
- Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California
- Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley Butler, Okinawa
- Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii
- Marine Corps Base Quantico, Quantico, Virginia
- Marine Corps Detachment, Guantanamo Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
- Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Beaufort, South Carolina
- Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, San Diego, California
- Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California
Any Marine Corps veterans stationed at these bases — or those who helped to build them — may have been exposed to asbestos.
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Asbestos was used to create friction-reducing products and heat-resistant fabrics in Marine vehicles.
Asbestos-containing products used in Marine vehicles included:
- Brake pads
- Transmission plates
- Automobile clutches
Marine mechanics had the greatest risk for exposure from these vehicles, as they had to install new asbestos-based parts and replace ones that were old and deteriorating. This work directly exposed Marine mechanics on a daily basis.