The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that 220,000 United States Military veterans, and other personnel have sustained asbestos exposure in the military between World War II and the early 1980s. Veteran asbestos exposure can result in serious health consequences and fatal diseases.

It is vital to understand that if you or a loved one experienced asbestos exposure in the Military and were subsequently diagnosed with certain medical conditions, you can file a claim for compensation related to your financial and physical losses. Speaking with an asbestos exposure lawyer  as soon as possible will help you understand your legal options.

Exposure to asbestos may result in asbestos particles being trapped in the lungs where damage takes place in the form of microscopic scarring.  Over time as a person breathes this microscopic scarring becomes more severe.. This damage to the lungs can result in numerous health complications, such as inflammation, fluid build up, increased susceptibility to respiratory viruses and sickness, and increased difficulty breathing.

Eventually, this effect may result in medical issues, such as:
  • Asbestos disease
  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung Cancer
  • Digestive Tract (Stomach and Colon) and Throat Cancer

It generally takes a minimum of 10 years after asbestos exposure to develop the above-referenced conditions. Individuals who have them, usually held careers that subjected them to asbestos, like U.S. Military veterans and other military service persons.

History of Asbestos Use in the Military

All branches of the U.S. Military (Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines) began using asbestos and asbestos-containing materials during the 1930s. Asbestos was used in the construction, maintenance, and repair of vehicles, bases, and equipment in the Military throughout World War II, Korea, Vietnam and throughout all peacetime actions as well.  In 1977 the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the mineral and by the early 1980’s the use of asbestos had significantly decreased.

Even though the government prohibited the use of asbestos in the 1970s, its toxic minerals and subsequent effects continued to linger decades thereafter. Exposure risks persisted due to asbestos products previously installed and then being removed.


Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that can cause serious lung disease and even cancer when inhaled by humans. Asbestos has historically been used as an insulating material in heavy […]

As such, the Installation Asbestos Management Program was adopted by the Army in 1998 to mitigate further harm to servicemen and women. However, asbestos exposure in the military is not always controllable once outside the U.S, away from home turf.

Personnel deployed to developing and transitioning nations may experience asbestos exposure in the military where these products are still used today. This is true for service members exposed to asbestos in the dust and debris of buildings destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For service members who experienced asbestos exposure, they generally do not receive a diagnosis until decades after retirement. If you believe that your history of asbestos exposure is causing your health problems, it is vital you speak with your primary care physician as soon as possible to understand your treatment options and future prognosis better.

Asbestos Exposure in Boiler Workers

Boiler technicians and other boiler workers are responsible for operating and maintaining hot water systems on gravity-fed steamships. They were at a significantly high risk during their deployment of asbestos exposure in the military since they worked in poorly ventilated areas and wore no protective gear.

These tasks caused them to work in restricted areas and to use products which commonly contained asbestos like pumps, insulation, valves, and coatings. It resulted in mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos related diseases to develop in these individuals 20 to 50 years later.

Asbestos Exposure in Welders and Hull Technicians

Welders, sheet metal workers, ship repairmen, hull technicians and similar jobs faced a high-risk of asbestos exposure. These positions often required cutting and heating metal in asbestos-insulated areas such as around boilers, steamlines, heaters, hot pipes…etc, or on asbestos-containing equipment, like valves, compressors, ventilation systems…etc.

Since asbestos was present in more than thousands of products, asbestos exposure was inevitable for these types of workers. Many even wore gloves and aprons or used insulating blankets containing asbestos as they performed their work tasks. As a result of past asbestos exposure, men who worked in these jobs have an increased risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, throat and digestive cancers, and other asbestos related illnesses.

Asbestos Exposure in Machinists and Machinist Mates

Machinists and machinist mates experienced a frequent danger of working with asbestos materials. They used tools and heat-producing equipment to fabricate and alter metal and were routinely tasked in the repair of malfunctioning or defective machinery.

These individuals used presses, grinders, and other tools and often had to scrape asbestos materials and insulation off of whatever they were working on, which caused asbestos dust to fill the air as they worked. Many times they would bring these materials home on their clothing and expose family members second-hand, putting their families at risk of an asbestos related disease. 

Professional machinist. Horizontal shot of a man operating lathe grinding machine metalworking industry

Asbestos Exposure in Pipefitters and Insulators

Shipfitters, pipefitters, and insulators are a very high-risk exposure group. They used cutting, sanding, and grinding tools on materials that contained asbestos, releasing the asbestos fibers into the air that they then unknowingly inhaled. Between 10 and 50 years can pass before shipfitters and pipefitters begin to exhibit symptoms and receive a diagnosis.

Asbestos Exposure in Aircraft and Vehicle Mechanics

Aircraft and vehicle mechanics are also at a serious risk of developing asbestos-related injury due to frequent asbestos exposure. Asbestos was used in brake pads, clutches, gaskets, paint and sealants, wire, tape, wraps, adhesives, and other materials regularly used.

The hazard was particularly high when replacing brake pads and gaskets, and cutting insulating tape or wraps.

Asbestos in the Army

Army soldiers typically spent the least amount of time on ships than other members of the armed services.  However, they were still exposed to asbestos in barracks, storehouses, cafeteria’s, boiler rooms, equipment rooms, garages, and other buildings, whether they were mechanics, small arms repairmen, or performed any number of other jobs

Asbestos in the Navy

Asbestos exposure in the Navy was high due to its widespread use on ships. The Navy used asbestos throughout ships as pipe and steamline, in pumps, valves, and in-floor and wall panels. It was even contained in many adhesives, paint, and thermal materials.

Some asbestos insulation was sprayed on during installation, maintenance, and repair on the ships, and put countless service members at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers that filled the air. Boiler workers, insulators, mechanics and machinists were at the highest risk since they worked directly with or near to asbestos products on ships.  However, many others were still exposed to asbestos even if they performed other tasks.

Asbestos in the Air Force

Air Force personnel were exposed at hangars, warehouses, tool rooms, machine areas, and on or near aircraft being maintained or repaired.  Many hangars were sprayed with asbestos insulation, and some floors were made of asbestos tiles. Barracks, offices, and other rooms were built with asbestos-containing dry wall and ceiling tiles.

Asbestos was also used in  insulating electrical components, gaskets, and valves, brakes, exhaust pipes and other hot pipes on aircraft. Mechanics, sheetmetal workers, and machinists in the Air Force were typically the most high-risk position for asbestos exposure, although others were also exposed.

Asbestos in the Coast Guard

Like the Navy, asbestos exposure in the Coast Guard was primarily on and around ships. Ship boiler rooms, engine rooms, and shipyards were a significant source of exposure.

Many interior walls were coated in asbestos paint and materials to protect people from fire hazards.

Asbestos in the Marines

Asbestos exposure in the marines was mostly from ships, armored vehicles, and aircrafts, although there was also exposure in barracks, storerooms, and equipment repair areas.

Asbestos in the Merchant Marines

Merchant Marines primarily transport cargo and passengers during peacetime; in times of war, the Merchant Marine can be an auxiliary to the United States Navy, and can be called upon to deliver military personnel and materiel for the military.  Asbestos exposure for Merchant Marines is similar to the Navy or Coast Guard as far as asbestos exposure to ship boilers, pipes, steamlines, gaskets, heaters, valves, compressors…etc.

Victims of asbestos exposure in the military or their surviving family members can pursue compensation for the following losses:
  • Health care costs
  • Disability compensation
  • Special monthly compensation
  • Dependency and indemnity compensation
  • V.A. burial benefits

Obtaining benefits requires you to file a qualifying claim alongside documentation that supports your exposure and subsequent diagnosis. The claims process can take a few years to receive approval, which makes it advantageous to submit your claim as soon as possible.

Are You a Veteran Who Was Exposed to Asbestos?

If you are a United States Military veteran who experienced asbestos exposure and received a medical diagnosis for asbestosis, mesothelioma, or an asbestos-related cancer you may be eligible to receive financial compensation for your losses.

Surviving family members can also file a claim on behalf of the exposed individual if he or she experienced a loss of life from an asbestos-related illness. 

How We Can Help

The Law Center’s top priority is matching individuals who have been affected by asbestos exposure with an attorney who is best equipped to help them. That’s we have partnered with the legal team at Environmental Litigation Group P.C. who have helped thousands of Military veterans and their loved ones obtain the monetary award they deserve for their financial, physical, and emotional losses. The asbestos exposure lawyers at ELG will help you navigate the claims process from start to finish at no upfront cost to you.

In addition to compassionate and experienced counsel, ELG will work towards recovering the maximum amount available in your case.

Contact us today for a free consultation. Request yours today by calling 833-716-0087 or filling out our private contact form.