Nearly one-third of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States are military veterans. The enlisted personnel who served and worked on military ships or other vessels were often exposed to asbestos without their knowledge. The enlisted personnel in the U.S. Navy, for example, often worked the dirty jobs in the boiler room, in maintenance, pipefitting and construction had the heaviest exposure coming in direct contact with asbestos. Anyone who served aboard ships or in the shipbuilding yards likely had direct contact or significant second-hand exposure to asbestos.
Navy-related mesothelioma has been traced to this asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer that invades the lining of the lungs, stomach and abdomen. Mesothelioma has a long latency period of 20 to 30 years after the asbestos exposure.
Examples of U.S. Navy Veterans’ occupations that were likely exposed to asbestos include: