Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Asbestos Policies Needed to Ensure Military Personnel and Worker Safety

New Asbestos Policies Needed to Ensure Military Personnel and Worker Safety

Asbestos is a toxic mineral that has played a role in millions developing severe health ailments. Nicknamed as the “silent killer,” asbestos was widely utilized in a variety of industrial and building applications throughout the 20th century. Manufacturers and industries that used asbestos intentionally repressed evidence of its toxic qualities from workers and citizens for financial gains. Asbestos’ qualities as flame resistant, durable and inexpensive nature made it an ideal choice for many applications. Unknown too many, one of the hardest hit sectors has been the military.

Used by almost every branch in the United States military, over 300 asbestos-containing products are said to have been used by the Navy and other sectors from the 1930’s until the 1970’s. This led to hundreds of thousands of service men and women being wrongfully un-justifiably exposed to asbestos while on duty.

Evidence supporting a cover-up can be found in 1922, when the Navy issued a medical checklist demonstrating the hazardous qualities of asbestos that was hidden by manufacturers. Asbestos concerns were silenced due to the race to build the U.S. Navy fleet before the start of World War II. Sailors stationed aboard these asbestos-laden warships were often showered in asbestos dust. Many recall sleeping in bunks daily. This exposed an entire generation of civilians to this harmful substance.

Many vessels, planes, homes and buildings built prior to 1980 still may contain asbestos and pose many health risks for tradesman. Asbestos exposure has affected many trades including:

-- Shipyards
-- Construction
-- Power plants,
-- Demolition workers
-- Navy vessels

The frequent inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers can cause a severe lung ailment known as mesothelioma. This form of asbestos lung cancer takes the lives of thousands every year. With a latency period that lasts from 20 to 50 years, it isn’t until the later stages of progression when physicians usually are able to accurately diagnose. This also affects accurate mesothelioma prognosis for patients. Factors that affect mesothelioma life expectancy include age of diagnosis, latency period and cigarette smoking. If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, you should meet with mesothelioma doctors who can examine and determine if there is any need for further evaluations.

In 1973, the Navy ordered an asbestos ban on new vessels, but reports suggest they violated their own ban for the next five years. Asbestos exposure still remains a threat to soldiers who are stationed in countries throughout the world. In Iraq, over $194,000 worth of asbestos was imported into the country in 2003. Soldiers not only face daily threats while performing standard military operations, but also are at risk for potential exposure because fierce desert sands and winds can carry asbestos dust for miles.

Veterans who have developed an asbestos-related illness have found themselves in a difficult place. Due to the nature of mesothelioma, many veterans do not find out they have the illness until the later stages of life. When trying to obtain assistance and benefits for their wrongful illness, they are met with decisive struggles. Pleural mesothelioma is currently not recognized as a service related ailment. However, veterans can apply for Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits and must provide proof that their exposure occurred at the same time of their military service.

Regarded as one of many cover-ups jointly executed by corporations and government, it appears that the asbestos scandal still has not reached its climax. It appears that until there is a vehement change in policies enforced on a federal level against the use of asbestos, it will continue to inflict damage and harm to yet another generation of innocent by standards.
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