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Asbestos-Related Lung Problems and High-Risk Military Jobs

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

Lung Problems From Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is composed of tiny fibers that are easily inhaled, these fibers settle deep into your lungs, where they remain for years before causing health issues. Below is a list of some of the most common diseases caused by asbestos:


This is cancer of the mesothelial tissue that covers the lungs as well as several other internal organs.

Lung Scarring

When asbestos is inhaled into your alveoli, or air sacs, it causes irritation and scarring of the tissue. If you smoke, then you increase the chance of scarring.


Pleurisy is the swelling and irritation of the pleural membrane, the mesothelial tissue that surrounds the lungs.

Pleural Plaques

These are hardened places on the pleural membrane made of hyalinized collagen fibers. Pleural plaques are a primary sign of serious asbestos exposure.

Lung Cancer

In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos also contributes to other types of lung cancer, such as small cell cancer and non-small cell cancer.

Military Occupations Where Asbestos Exposure Is Highest

Many military members who served before the mid-1970s were exposed to asbestos through their barracks as well as through combat-related activities. Some occupations had a higher rate of repeated and long-term exposure. Here are a few examples of military jobs with high exposure rates.

Navy and Coast Guard

If you did any long-term work on a ship at all, especially around tiles and ceilings, then chances are you were regularly exposed to asbestos. The paint on many ships had high asbestos content. If your job involved insulation work or you worked with heating elements, such as boilers, then your risk of asbestos exposure is extremely high.


Marines who worked heavily with mechanics, either on a ship or on land, were more likely to have long-term, repeated exposure. You were especially vulnerable if you worked on vehicles or were exposed to destroyed buildings. If you were involved in demolition or construction, then you may also have had an increased risk of asbestos exposure.

Air Force

Two high-risk Air Force jobs are aircraft mechanics and metalsmiths. Many aircraft parts used asbestos to increase their fire resistance. Also, cargo bays often had asbestos materials in their insulation. Metalsmiths frequently wore clothing that contained asbestos to guard against the heat. On top of that, they worked around construction sites, a high-risk location.


The most common types of asbestos exposure in the Army were through working on vehicles or inspecting or cleaning up buildings. For example, brake pads contained asbestos, and you could have been exposed each time you removed a tire. Building construction or demolition often involved asbestos exposure through insulation and construction materials.

If you are having health issues affecting your lungs and were in the military, it is strongly advised to get examined by your doctor as soon as possible. The Veterans Asbestos Alliance may be able to help you with compensation for your disease. You must contact us as soon as possible after your diagnosis because legal settlements have a time limit. Fill out our website form or call us today to find out how we can help.

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