Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Guest Post/PSA for Veterans: Please Read!


















Asbestos is a highly unique mineral that was utilized throughout the 20th century by many military branches and industries in the United States. Asbestos exposure has affected various industries including the military, real estate, power generation and shipyards.

It’s qualities as fire resistant, versatile and durable nature paved the way for its uses as insulation in aircraft, vehicles and buildings. Asbestos appeared on most vessels used by the Navy and in shipyards. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stated that out of the 25 million military veterans living today in the country, hundreds of thousands were exposed to asbestos while on service.

The asbestos industry transformed itself into a major enterprise around the turn of the 20th century. Substantial economic gain and thousands of employees paved the way for the asbestos scandal. Manufacturers, industries and the U.S. Navy were all aware of the dangers of asbestos. Evidence demonstrates that any information regarding the toxic components of asbestos was swiftly covered up. While the military created one of the most formidable and intense Navy fleets in the world, asbestos concerns were silenced during that time.

As many as four million service men and women worked in shipyards repairing and building giant vessels. Thousands of tons of asbestos were used as piping and boiler insulation aboard navigation rooms, sleeping quarters and mess halls in ships.

Although not all cases of asbestos exposure can lead to a related illness, frequent exposure will increase the possibility. The inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers can cause severe forms of asbestos lung cancer such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Many symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to other disorders, making it especially difficult for physicians to diagnose. Mesothelioma metastasis can occur when the illness spreads through the lymph nodes or the blood stream.

This can occur in the disease later stages as it can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years for mesothelioma to develop, making it extremely difficult for physicians to accurately diagnose this disease. Mesothelioma treatment has varied affects on patients because once the disease has manifested, it is usually in the later stages of development.

Miscellaneous Exposure Settings

The World Trade Center attacks of September 11th, 2001 set about 2,000 tons of asbestos in the air and resulted in 62 percent of those caught in the dust cloud coping with respiratory problems. Natural disasters are also potential exposure settings. Hurricane Katrina damaged thousands of older asbestos containing homes. Almost three years after the storm, states of the Gulf coast region are still struggling to restore buildings and prevent asbestos exposure.

United States combat troops have been stationed in Iraq and face many extreme dangers on a daily basis. Aside from performing military operations, there is the potential threat of asbestos exposure. Over $194,000 worth of asbestos was imported into Iraq in 2003, documents reveal.

This presents a significant hazard for all soldiers stationed in the country because intense winds and desert sands can carry asbestos dust for long distances.

Military veterans and civilians who have developed an asbestos-related disease find themselves in a tough situation when attempting to receive assistance and benefits for their wrongful illness. The latency period involved with mesothelioma lasts anywhere from 20 to 50 years, allowing the disease to reach its later stages when physicians can diagnose the patient. Currently, mesothelioma is not readily recognized as a service-related medical ailment. However, veterans can apply for Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits for asbestos-related illness and must provide proof that their exposure occurred at the time of their military service.

Many Navy vessels, homes and public facilities could still harvest asbestos-laden materials in older construction materials, brakes, gaskets and clutches. The potential remains for another generation of veteran and civilian asbestos exposure. Individuals should be aware of the hazards involved with this obsolete substance and take the proper initiatives to avoid exposure.

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