Asbestos Exposure in the Military

Veterans DayThrough many decades of service and numerous tours of duty, our veterans in all branches of the armed forces have faced asbestos exposure and continue to face exposure today.

It is well known that Navy ships built prior to 1980 contain significant amounts of asbestos-containing materials that were used in areas such as boiler rooms, pump rooms, and turrets. In addition to those who were exposed while serving in the Navy, many workers were exposed while building these ships and more are being exposed today as the same ships are being demolished.

Roughly one third of mesothelioma patients were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy or working in the shipbuilding industry. The Navy is faced with the highest rate of asbestos exposure of all military branches, and shipyard workers face the highest rate of occupational exposure across all trades.

Nonetheless, asbestos was used in other branches of the military. In the Army, vehicles such as tanks and jeeps have been known to contain asbestos gaskets, brakes and clutch discs. The fighter jets and cargo planes used by the Air Force are known to have been built with asbestos material in areas such as firewalls, electrical, valves and insulation, as well as engine parts. Marines were put at risk of exposure by the above-mentioned vehicles, which they often used as transportation.

While the military began to phase out asbestos use in the 1970s, the possibility of exposure still exists today as a result of its widespread use in the past. We still see asbestos in civilian areas, such as in products used in the construction of military housing before 1980, including floor tiles, insulation, HVAC systems, and many other products that now require removal or repairs.

Veterans who served in WWII through 1980 are thought to be at high risk of having been exposed to asbestos. Unfortunately, with these exposures comes the risk of developing mesothelioma. There is a 20 to 50 year latency period between time of exposure and development of mesothelioma, meaning those who were exposed decades ago are being diagnosed today.

At the Meso Foundation, our work on behalf of veterans affected by mesothelioma today, and those who will develop mesothelioma in the future, spans throughout the year. Visit to learn more about our prevention program.

Saluting Our Veterans!

flags_veterans2_smallThank You, Veterans!

On this Veterans Day, the Meso Foundation would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to all those who have generously and selflessly served this country in our various branches of the military. We appreciate and admire your service!

At the Meso Foundation, our work on behalf of veterans affected by mesothelioma today, and those who will develop mesothelioma in the future, spans throughout the year. We work to ensure that mesothelioma, a cancer prevalent among veterans, is not ignored by our country’s elected officials and our government.

In fact, as a direct result of continued advocacy by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, the Department of Defense has funded a total of $8.8 million in mesothelioma research since 2008. We are currently looking to expand this program to include a category dedicated exclusively to mesothelioma, so that meso researchers would no longer need to compete against other diseases for funding.

Beyond our advocacy for research dollars and our own research funding to which we’ve invested over $8.2 million, the Meso Foundation is dedicated to helping mesothelioma patients, including our service men and women, by providing them with support services and education they need to fight this cancer. We understand that veterans may have specific needs, therefore, on our website, we have compiled important information and resources specific to this group.

Military veterans, along with other occupations leading to asbestos exposures, are at a high risk for developing mesothelioma. A 2002 study of asbestos exposures that led to mesothelioma found that a large number of total mesothelioma cases, approximately 1/3, were caused by either service in the Navy or occupations within the shipbuilding industry. Over 1 in 10 mesothelioma patients are Navy veterans.

FROM THE HEADLINES: The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Appears before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations

Last week, on June 6, 2012, Mary Hesdorffer, MS, APRN, nurse practitioner and medical liaison for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, appeared before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations – Subcommittee on Defense, at their Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations Outside Witness Testimony Hearing. Speaking with the voice of the Meso Foundation and its community, Mary made an appeal to the lawmakers for their attention concerning mesothelioma and its impact on those who served to defend the United States.

The Meso Foundation played a critical role in making peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma eligible topics within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. The first ever DoD award for mesothelioma occurred in 2008 when one investigator obtained over $1.3 million for research. A total of $7.7 million has been awarded to mesothelioma research through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program and the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program, both divisions of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, which is administered by the Department of Defense since Fiscal Year 2008. Continue reading “FROM THE HEADLINES: The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Appears before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations” »