Mesothelioma and Asbestos in the Air Force
U.S. Air Force personnel were no exception to asbestos exposure. Many veterans developed duty-related mesothelioma from long-term exposure due to their working environments.
Fortunately, there are excellent treatment options available to Air Force veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. From personalized treatment plans to veterans support, Air Force members have the power to extend their life expectancies and successfully fight mesothelioma.
Asbestos Exposure in the Air Force
Though the Air Force was a new branch, it was not immune to exposure to asbestos. Throughout a 20 to 30 year period, air and ground crews worked in asbestos-filled environments. This period lasted until asbestos regulations came in during the 1970s and 80s.
All aircrafts built before the 1970s and into the Cold War used asbestos products. They surrounded engines for fire resistance and heat insulation. Asbestos shielded cockpits and lined cargo bays. Gaskets, firewalls and heating/cooling systems contained asbestos. Linings of brakes and friction surfaces contained asbestos as well.
Aircrafts containing asbestos products include:
- F-104 Starfighter
- B-36 Peacemaker
- KC-135 Stratotanker
- B-47 Stratojet
- B-52 Stratofortress
- B-58 Hustler
- U-2 Spyplanes
- SR-71 Blackbird
The Air Force also used asbestos in buildings and maintenance facilities. Flooring, roofing, siding, insulation, paint, caulking and concrete products all contained asbestos.
Air Force mechanics had the highest risk of asbestos exposure. Airborne asbestos fibers were highly concentrated in dust and debris from brake linings and other disturbed surfaces. Personal protective equipment was rarely used.
Other Air Force duties with a high risk of asbestos exposure include:
- Airframe Specialists
- Aeroengine Specialists
- Fire Suppression Specialists
- Environmental Support Specialists
Mesothelioma Treatments for Air Force Veterans
Every Air Force veteran who experienced prolonged exposure to asbestos is at risk of developing mesothelioma. Air Force veterans working around these products could have easily inhaled or ingested the asbestos fibers. When asbestos fibers enter the body, they can become trapped within the protective linings that cover the chest and abdomen. Over time, this causes irritation and inflammation, which triggers mesothelioma cells.
Air Force veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma have several treatments available.
Common treatments include:
- Surgery that physically cuts out mesothelioma tumors
- Radiation that controls cancer cells by exposure to high radioactive energy
- Chemotherapy that kills mesothelioma cells with drugs
Emerging mesothelioma treatments are also available to Air Force veterans through clinical trials.
The most promising emerging treatments include:
- Immunotherapy where the body’s immune system is amplified
- Photodynamic therapy where light and medication control cancer
- Genotherapy where genetic cells are modified at the DNA level
Emerging treatments for mesothelioma give hope for great future progress. Clinical trials offer new forms of treatment that shrink, kill and remove cancer tumors. There are also advancements with pain control through physical and alternative therapies. Mesothelioma victims have every reason to hope for future breakthroughs.
Mesothelioma Support for Air Force Veterans
Air Force veterans should know that the Air Force was unaware of asbestos health risks when they began using asbestos products. Various manufacturers withheld information about health consequences. Asbestos manufacturers are at fault for this terrible situation, not the Air Force.
Government compensation for mesothelioma is available for Air Force veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Veterans who developed mesothelioma may be eligible for Service Connected (SC) compensation.
Seeing a mesothelioma specialist at a top treatment center for veterans is the best way to extend your life expectancy. Talk to your doctor today about getting a referral to a mesothelioma specialist so you can get the best treatments possible.