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Asbestos Exposure in the Air Force

Air Force veterans may find themselves at increased risk of developing mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure. The attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm fight for compensation for all veterans exposed to this dangerous material.

Asbestos on Air Force bases is no longer the prevalent problem that it once was. If you recently entered the Air Force, asbestos exposure is likely not something you need to worry about. In the recent past, the U.S. government has taken strides to minimize the chances of service members coming into contact with asbestos. 

However, Air Force veterans previously exposed to asbestos may face an increased risk of developing an aggressive form of cancer.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral consisting of heat-resistant fibers. It’s imported from Russia and China but was once mined in the United States. Before the discovery of its toxic properties, its natural resistance to heat made it ideal for use in a variety of products, including:


From the 1940s to the 1970s, the U.S. Air Force used asbestos throughout its facilities and in much of its machinery. Numerous personnel were exposed to the material’s harmful effects. As a result, many veterans are currently suffering with mesothelioma.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that develops in the layer of tissue covering the majority of your internal organs. The specific type of mesothelioma contracted differs depending on where the cancer has localized.

Types of mesothelioma include: 

  • Pericardial mesothelioma (heart tissue)
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma (abdominal tissue)
  • Pleural mesothelioma (lung tissue)
  • Mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis testis (testicle tissue)

If you have endured prolonged exposure to asbestos, be mindful of symptoms you develop in any of the areas listed above.

chest x-ray

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of malignant mesothelioma are similar in some ways but can vary depending on where the cancer has developed. Commonalities include pain and weight loss but can also include nausea, coughing and lumps with some types. 

If you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma, contact your doctor right away.

How can you contract mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma can be contracted as a result of exposure to asbestos on Air Force bases. 

While asbestos exposure in any form is unsafe, one is at heightened risk of contracting a serious ailment if they disturb or interact with materials containing asbestos in a manner that causes the fibers to be released into the surrounding atmosphere where they could be inhaled or absorbed into the body. 

For example, Air Force members might be exposed to asbestos while repairing an aircraft that has asbestos in its components.

Unfortunately, once asbestos enters the body, it is impossible to remove.

What other ailments can asbestos cause?

Those who have inhaled asbestos can also contract asbestosis, which is a scarring of the lung tissue that can result in breathing issues. Another problem is pleural plaques, which are caused by scarring on the areas around the lungs and at the top of the rib cage. Additionally, inhaling asbestos can lead to the development of lung cancer.

How the U.S. Air Force Used Asbestos

Asbestos was commonly used to fireproof brakes and other mechanical components and was prevalent in the U.S. Air Force thanks to its affordability and durability. Additionally, Air Force bases used asbestos in their housing structures, dining areas and work facilities. 

Air Force personnel could have come into contact with it if they were around any type of adhesive, plumbing structures, insulation materials, sealants, floor tiles and especially aircraft.

What is being done?

The EPA has taken measures to ensure that products known to contain asbestos were removed from the market and aren’t allowed to return to the market. However, this step did little to remove asbestos-laden products that had already been imported into the country. 

Currently, the EPA is proposing a ban on all ongoing uses of asbestos. If enacted, it will stop asbestos from being imported, manufactured and distributed in the United States.

Is asbestos still used in the military?

Although federal laws and regulations have been implemented to reduce asbestos exposure, the material remains legal in the United States. This means that while it is not used in the construction of new buildings and machinery, it has not been eliminated from all structures and still poses a risk to those who come into contact with it. 

Unfortunately, this means Air Force members and their families could still risk exposure simply by going to work.

Proving Asbestos Exposure

If you’re attempting to file a claim after you or a loved one contracted mesothelioma or another asbestos-induced cancer, know that you will have to prove that you were exposed. As with all lawsuits, the court requires proof in order to hold the defendant liable. 

To establish proof, the first thing you need to do is get diagnosed by a doctor. Next, you should seek out an attorney who has experience with asbestos-related claims. The attorney will begin compiling evidence that proves you were unlawfully exposed.

During the initial portion of your claim, you will likely have to answer a series of questions posed by your attorney and potentially by the defendant you are suing. Your answers to these questions will establish the groundwork for providing proof of exposure.

This process can be very stressful and disconcerting. If you’re having trouble getting started or have questions, consider consulting an attorney who has knowledge of and experience with mesothelioma-related claims.

Can you file for VA disability due to asbestos exposure?

If you are a veteran, you’re probably wondering if you can file for VA disability due to asbestos exposure. The short answer is yes, the VA considers mesothelioma to be a disabling form of cancer. 

You can file for VA disability provided you meet the following requirements: Your initial contact with asbestos transpired while you were serving in the military, and you have not been dishonorably discharged.

If you meet both of these requirements, you may be entitled to health care benefits and compensation.

How to Get Benefits

In order to receive benefits, you will need to file a disability compensation claim and provide supporting evidence. 

Relevant documents could include a signed doctor’s note indicating a correlation between your time in the service and your asbestos exposure, Air Force military service records that specify your job and daily duties, and medical records that specifically pertain to your illness.

Once you have filled out the claim form, you can submit it to the VA by mail, in person at your nearest VA office or in collaboration with a trained professional.

The Lanier Law Firm Is Here for You After Air Force Asbestos Exposure

Mesothelioma is a serious disease. That’s why Air Force asbestos exposure can be devastating to individuals and families alike. Fortunately, the attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm are ready and willing to help with your case.

If you or a loved one is a U.S. Air Force veteran who was exposed to asbestos while serving and contracted mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. 

Contact The Lanier Law Firm today for more information and to get started on the path to relief.

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