The use of asbestos in construction was widespread throughout the best part of the 20th century, and the U.S Armed Forces had many installations that used the material up to the end of the 1970s when regulations changed.
Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma, and the problem for many veterans is that symptoms of this asbestos-related disease often do not reveal themselves until 15 to 60 years after exposure to the toxic fibers.
The early stages of mesothelioma are often barely noticeable and can often be mistaken for general aches and pains.
If you experience a dry, persistent hacking cough and suffer from a shortness of breath and abdominal pain, talk to your doctor aware about your career history and consider whether you may have been exposed to asbestos fibers.
The risk of mesothelioma for airmen
Some U.S Air Force bases have been identified as representing a high risk of asbestos exposure for the men and women who served at these facilities.
The U.S Armed Forces regularly used asbestos-related materials through the 1940s and late 1970s. Examples of these products are roofing products and wallboards. Asbestos was used as a concrete additive and joint compound. These items were identified as a hazard when the Air Force Command acknowledged the asbestos hazard issue in 1986.
This was the year when they adopted the Asbestos Grade which is an acronym for Guidance for Rating and Assessing Damage and Exposure. The aim of the grade was to target and prioritize a steep reduction in the use of asbestos in their bases and buildings.
Asbestos was widely used in aircraft braking systems and as an insulator for airplane engines. Veteran Airmen tasked with servicing the planes at a base have been noted as a particularly high-risk category of serviceman, due to their interaction with these components.
Asbestos parts become potentially dangerous after they suffer wear and tear, resulting in possibly lethal asbestos particles being released into the air and then being inhaled.
Even more dangerous in Iraq
It may seem implausible that the brave service personnel who put their lives on the line when serving in Iraq could be exposed to even more risk that you first imagined, but the presence of asbestos makes that scenario a real possibility.
Many parts of the world, including the U.S, recognized the dangers of asbestos and took action to reduce its use in construction materials some time ago, but the Middle Eastern region is much more of a mixed picture.
Chrysotile asbestos, or white asbestos, was imported to Iraq back in 2003. Countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia have imposed a number of bans on asbestos use, while Iraq has failed to follow the same safety measures.
U.S troops have another potential deadly enemy to contend with whilst completing their tour of duty.
Exposure to asbestos particles can have deadly and serious health consequences for many people subjected to prolonged inhalation, leading to the possibility of suffering from mesothelioma at some point later on in their lives.
By Katie Johnson
Katie has a diverse background in PR, journalism and digital marketing. She is focused on creating a unique community for family, friends or those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or an asbestos-related disease.