155mmHowitzer

Part Two in a Series About Asbestos and the Military – What You Need to Know

When the young men and women of our country enlist in the U.S. Military, whether they serve in a foreign land or somewhere here in America, they know their service to our nation may put them in danger. The last thing our servicemen and women expect is that their duty to our country would unknowingly expose them to a deadly carcinogen on a military base. Yet the toxic fiber called asbestos was used in practically every facet of military construction in every branch of the armed forces throughout most of the 1900s.

Asbestos fibers, when disturbed, can be ingested or breathed into the lungs. The fibers then settle in lung or abdominal tissue where they can eventually cause asbestosis, lung cancer or deadly mesothelioma cancer, for which there is no cure. The companies that provided asbestos products to the military knew that asbestos was harmful but produced the goods that contained the toxin anyway.

The lawyers at Baron & Budd never sue the United States military.

We sue the manufacturers who put asbestos into products that were used in the construction of everything from troop barracks to weaponry and vehicles. Today we will look at how our veterans of the United States Army were exposed to asbestos on almost a daily basis.

Buildings

QuonsetHut01
The largest branch of our military, the Army, valued asbestos insulation for its inexpensive, fire-resistant properties. The lightweight, durable fibers were incorporated into cement boards, plaster and paint, floor and ceiling tile and numerous other building products used in the construction of military bases on American soil and around the world. Between 150,000 and 170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured during World War II. Their interiors were frequently outfitted with asbestos insulation and building materials. The half-round structures served as barracks, medical and dental offices, housing and even kitchens and dining facilities. After the war, the military sold its surplus Quonset huts to the public. Some remain standing today and just as many are still in use at Army bases around the country.

All water-based heating and plumbing systems utilized by the Army were insulated with asbestos covering on boilers and pipes which stretched throughout every base, into every building. These barracks, shops, medical facilities and mess halls have been in constant use since World War II and, as the materials began to fray with wear, they released their deadly fibers into the air.

Vehicles

FORT HOOD, Texas— Artillerymen from B. Battery, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, move a M992A2 Field Artillery Ammunition Supply Vehicle across the range to a M109A6 Paladin to provide support during the 3rd Bn, 82nd FA Regt.’s Paladin live-fire exercise at a range on Fort Hood, Sept. 22. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt Quentin Johnson, 2nd BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.)
In addition to the environment in which they lived and worked, infantrymen were exposed to asbestos through their duties in motor pools, repairing and maintaining transport vehicles of all kinds. Not only did brake linings and clutch facings contain asbestos, but so did the gaskets in fuel and water pumps, as well as most of the hoses under the hood. Vehicles of any type built through the 1960s also contained electric wiring that was coated with asbestos. Armored vehicles may have been lined with asbestos insulation, as were vehicles which carried ammunition and thus needed additional fire-retardant capabilities.

Ammunition

HowitzerDummyCharges
Artillerymen wore asbestos gloves to protect themselves from burns when loading machine gun barrels and handling hot artillery shells. These gloves disintegrated with use, emitting microscopic asbestos fibers. During training exercises, the dummy charges used for howitzer guns frequently contained chrysotile asbestos fibers, which would spew asbestos dust when they broke apart. Dummy charges left over following a live-firing exercise were burned, sending fiber-laden smoke into the air. Some of these charges still contained asbestos as recently as 2010 because, amazingly, asbestos is still not banned in the United States.

In the 1990s the Army underwent a billion-dollar cleanup of 32 stateside Army installations. It is the troops who passed through these facilities in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s who are the veterans facing asbestos-related diseases today.

If you or one of your parents served in the Army and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please call the lawyers at Baron & Budd at 866-723-1890 or contact us online to receive a completely confidential evaluation.

Serving your country shouldn’t mean exposing yourself to “friendly fire” in the form of asbestos products made by American manufacturers. You will not be asked to sue the government or the military. We pursue compensation from the asbestos manufacturers who knew of its danger and used asbestos in their products, anyway. Your loyal service to your country should not be given at the expense of your health from exposure to dangerous products.