Air Force Bases and Mesothelioma from Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a mineral fiber used to create thousands of products, many of which were used in military aircraft. It’s light, strong, and resistant to fire, heat, and electricity. The aircraft industry used it extensively for decades. Those working in or near these aircraft were exposed to asbestos, and many suffered long-term health consequences.
Those with asbestos-related diseases, and their surviving next of kin, may be entitled to compensation for what they endured due to this toxic substance. Though the US asbestos industry went bankrupt, companies created substantial trust funds for those injured by their products.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was plentiful and cheap for many years. Its use sharply dropped in the late 1970s when government regulations nearly ended its use. Although it’s a well-known carcinogen, asbestos still has limited use in the US.
Asbestos was used in thousands of products since the Industrial Revolution. Due to the ongoing need for military aircraft starting in World War II, hundreds of thousands were produced with asbestos products.
Why is Asbestos Hazardous?
Asbestos fibers are tiny and light. When products containing them are installed, repaired, taken out, or replaced, fibers are put into the air. Unless they wear appropriate safety gear, anyone in the area could swallow or inhale them.
After getting into the body, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, asbestos fibers can result in:
- Severe breathing problems (asbestosis)
- Lung cancer
- Mesothelioma (a form of cancer) of the lung and chest cavity linings (pleural mesothelioma), the heart lining (pericardial mesothelioma), and the lining of the abdominal cavity and organs (peritoneal mesothelioma)
Asbestos fibers become stuck in the lungs, heart, or abdomen, causing inflammation and scarring. The immune system tries but fails to destroy the fibers. The immune system cells die and disintegrate, spilling enzymes onto nearby tissue. This causes inflammation, cell mutations, and over decades, cancer.
One reason why asbestos was used so much is the fibers are strong and practically indestructible, but that’s what makes them so destructive in the body. They remain for decades, causing deadly mutations that result in fatal cancers.
Why is Mesothelioma So Dangerous?
Pleural mesothelioma is treatable but not curable. Treatment can lessen your symptoms and may improve your quality of life, but it won’t cure you.
The American Cancer Society estimates that five years after diagnosis, of those with the disease:
- 12% will survive
- 20% will survive if it’s limited to one area
- 8% will survive if it’s spread to other body parts
A study of pericardial mesothelioma patients states those with the condition survived, on average, two months after diagnosis. A 2013 European Journal of Cancer article stated that of the 108 people with peritoneal mesothelioma studied, nearly half (43.6%) lived seven or more years after treatment.
For comparison, here are overall five-year survival rates for other cancers:
- Melanoma 93%
- Colon cancer 64%
- Lung cancer 26%
- Liver cancer 20%
Individual outcomes vary based on disease type, sub-type, age, and overall health.
Asbestos in Military Aircraft
Airmen maintaining and repairing aircraft and pilots flying them could be exposed to asbestos-containing products during the ordinary course of their duties:
- Fabrics, Gloves, Blankets, and Cloth
- Engine Mounts, Heat Shields, and Shrouds
- Valves, Gaskets, and Other Parts
- Repair Equipment
The most significant exposure may have occurred when airmen worked on landing gear brakes. Asbestos was used to handle high temperatures, and replacing brake pads could release asbestos fibers.
Jet engines can reach 3,600 degrees. Asbestos-containing products protected aircraft and engine components against this high heat. Insulation controlled heat and prevented fires around electrical components. Asbestos-containing epoxies and adhesives held aircraft components together.
Call Us Today For A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one worked on an Air Force base and have an asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma, Satterley & Kelley attorneys will answer your questions, advise you of your rights to compensation, and protect your interests. To reach our law office in Louisville, call 855-385-9532. You may also complete our contact form for a free initial consultation.