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Mesothelioma & the Military: Moving to a Safe Environment


Nobody does it better or more often than a military family.“It” is packing up and moving house, family and expectations from one military community to another as the enlisted member of the family follows a career. Military housing built today is often a far stretch from the hastily constructed multi-family units of the 1950s and 1960s, but many of the older structures are still in use.Two of the cautionary steps that should accompany every move are an inquiry into the age of the home you’re moving into and an inspection to determine whether there is asbestos present.


Any structure put up prior to 1980 is a good prospect for a building containing asbestos products.The number of items containing asbestos that you can find in a typical home of that era is unnerving.Asbestos roofing, flooring, ceiling tiles, wallboard, insulation, caulking and sealants were in common usage.The EPA compiled extensive information about asbestos in the home, still relevant for any home that has been standing for thirty years or more,


Asbestos in the Military


Asbestos became a national health issue in the late twentieth century because of the tens of thousands of Americans who developed illnesses as a result of inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers.Those tiny fibers are given off by asbestos that is crumbling from age or exposure, or that is disturbed in such a way that it gives off dust.That can happen as easily in a home with old asbestos insulation as it can in an industrial setting where there is asbestos insulation on hot boilers or pipes.


In fact it was boilers and pipes that led to the massive exposure of Navy veterans from twentieth century service to develop asbestos related diseases, the worst of which is mesothelioma cancer.Every Navy vessel commissioned between 1930 and the early 1970s was loaded with asbestos insulation in the engine room.Boilers and heat generating components were coated with asbestos, as were pipes that ran through the ship.Hulls and compartments were lined with asbestos for the purpose of fire control.Many of those ships are still active and in some, the asbestos will never be completely gone.The USS Enterprise still has a trained asbestos removal crew on board for instances when a crewmember comes across a pocket of asbestos that hasn’t been safely disposed of.


The Consequences of Asbestos Exposure


The two worst diseases that result from inhaled asbestos fibers are asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.Most often, mesothelioma will strike the membrane surrounding the outside of the lungs – a membrane called the pleura.Eventually the cancer cells will cause the accumulation of fluid between the lungs and the chest wall, a condition called pleural effusion that causes shortness of breath and chest pain.


While asbestosis is not malignant, it scars the lungs so that breathing capacity is greatly reduced.These are the diseases that have caused hundreds of thousands of Americans to file claims against the asbestos companies for liability compensation.Hundreds of thousands of those claims have been paid.The federal government has finally acknowledged the dimensions of this public health disaster by charging the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to tackle existing asbestos hazards throughout the country, to formulate occupational guidelines for avoiding asbestos exposure and to work with the EPA on getting some of the mine sites cleared up.


Navy Service and Toxic Ships


A substantial proportion of the people who have lost their health to asbestos are veterans – about thirty percent of the total.That percentage is remarkably high, and of those veterans the large majority served in the Navy.It’s important to know about the dangers of asbestos to your family today, and it’s also important to be familiar with the mesothelioma symptoms of the malignant type, like so many Navy families, you have a veteran in one of the older generations.


The Veterans Affairs bureaucracy has been skittish about acknowledging military responsibility for mesothelioma.While they treat respiratory diseases of all types in veterans returning from many different overseas assignments, their position on disability for mesothelioma victims is that the veteran is only eligible if he or she can prove that the asbestos exposure occurred during active service.That is virtually impossible; especially because mesothelioma symptoms won’t appear for years and even decades after the asbestos exposure has occurred.


Fair Compensation


What the VA will suggest is that a veteran suffering from mesothelioma file a claim against the asbestos companies.They have basically accepted responsibility for the health problems their products have created and many of them have set up billion dollar trusts to pay health related liability claims.An enormous number of Americans have filed claims with those trusts and thousands of them are veterans. If you have a case for compensation due to an asbestos related disease, line up some mesothelioma legal help to get your claim filed and paid in a timely manner.

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