Marines Military Veterans and Asbestos Mesothelioma Risks

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The United States Marine Corps is known for being the tip of the spear of US military operations. But Marines are as susceptible to the dangers of asbestos as other military members. Asbestos was used in many parts of the Marine Corps from the 1930s until 1980.

Asbestos was commonly used in aircraft, ships, buildings, weapons systems, and vehicles used by the Marines. Veterans who worked in construction in the Marines often have the greatest risk of developing mesothelioma. But Marines who worked near these asbestos-containing materials also were at risk.

It is recommended that Marine veterans be watchful of any symptoms that suggest they may have developed an asbestos-related condition. For example, a nagging cough that will not go away, combined with back or chest pain and shortness of breath, could be signs of mesothelioma. (

How Marine Members Were Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos was used in machinery, equipment, and buildings in the Marine Corps because it is an excellent insulator and resists fire. But if asbestos is disturbed, the invisible particles can be inhaled or swallowed, which can lead to mesothelioma years later.

The Marine Corps is a department within the US Navy, which is the military branch with the most asbestos exposure. The proximity of the Marines to the US Navy affected the amount of asbestos exposure experienced by members of the Marine Corps. Marines were often exposed to asbestos while they were traveling on Navy vessels or inside Marine Corps base housing. (

Onboard Navy ships, exposure could occur from ship insulation, gaskets, valves, and pipe coverings for hot water and steam pipes. While they onboard, Marines were typically tasked with maintenance work, such as removing insulation. During this work, asbestos was disturbed in an environment with little ventilation, making the exposure, especially high risk.

Ships that were used in World War II and the Vietnam War had a high risk of asbestos exposure. Many of these ships are still used in the Navy today. As the ships get older and parts break down, Marines living on them are at a higher risk of asbestos dangers.

Marines who did not serve aboard ships also may have experienced asbestos exposure by living in Marine Corps barracks. These buildings often had asbestos in their construction. Any Marines living in them could have been exposed. Asbestos was used in these buildings into the 1980s and was used in floor tiles, roofing, cement, insulation, and boilers.

Marine Occupations Involving High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

According to the Veterans Administration, Marines who worked in the following capacities through the 1980s may have experienced asbestos exposure: (

  • Mining
  • Shipyard work
  • Milling
  • Carpentry
  • Construction
  • Shipbuilding, maintenance, and repair

The VA also recommends you should be tested if you were a Marine who worked with products such as:

  • Flooring
  • Roofing
  • Cement sheet
  • Pipes
  • Insulation
  • Clutch facings and brake linings

Where Marine Members Were Exposed to Asbestos

Marines could have been exposed to asbestos for decades in these locations:

  • Aircraft: Marines could have faced heavy asbestos exposure if they flew in or worked on aircraft. These planes often had asbestos as a flame retardant. Marines were transported in the cargo holds of large aircraft that contained large quantities of asbestos. Marines who built or repaired aircraft also were at risk of asbestos exposure. The brake and clutch systems in airplanes often used asbestos to reduce high amounts of heat and friction. When those parts were replaced, asbestos dust could easily have been inhaled or swallowed by Marines.
  • Bases and Buildings: Marine bases were often built with many asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos was used a great deal to line Marine barracks to reduce the chances of fire. It also was used in roofs, doors, pipe and heating systems, and shingles. Most Marines who lived in the buildings had a limited risk of exposure if the asbestos was not disturbed. But Marines who had to work on building these buildings were at high risk of exposure. Many have gotten mesothelioma later in life.
  • Ships: Ships built by the Navy and used by Marines once contained huge quantities of asbestos. The confined quarters on ships meant that dangerous asbestos fibers were almost always inhaled if disturbed. Asbestos was found almost anywhere on Naval vessels, including dining halls, kitchens and galleys, and living quarters. Asbestos was especially common in rooms with engines and boilers because asbestos was such a good insulator against heat.
  • Shipyards: Marines who were employed in shipyards faced similar dangers as those who worked on ships. Shipbuilding in the Navy required the use of asbestos for decades, so it was easy for fibers to be blown into the air without notice. Marines did not necessarily build ships, but they may have worked as guards and on the ships themselves during construction and repair.
  • Vehicles: Marines used vehicles often that contained asbestos, including trucks, jeeps, and armored carriers. But tanks were the biggest threat of asbestos exposure for Marines by far. The M60 tank was used by Marines in the 1960s, and it had a lot of asbestos insulation for fireproofing. If this insulation was ever damaged or worn out, asbestos particles entered the closed environment of the tank. Marines who served as mechanics also had a high risk of asbestos exposure. Any time a part had to be removed or repaired that contained asbestos, the fibers could be inhaled or swallowed.

Recent Exposure to Asbestos

Regulations regarding asbestos use are strict in the United States today. But several countries in the Middle East, such as Iraq, still use a lot of asbestos for construction even today. Marines who worked in military operations in the Middle East in recent years may have been exposed to asbestos in the construction or demolition of buildings that contained asbestos. (


If you are a Marine veteran and you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is a good idea to talk to a skilled mesothelioma lawyer who is familiar with cancer litigation with the US military. You also may be able to file a third-party lawsuit against the companies that provided asbestos-containing materials to the Marines.

Also, you may be eligible to obtain asbestos claims compensation from one of the many asbestos trust funds that companies have established to pay employees who were exposed to the carcinogen in products those companies made. Some Marine veterans may also be eligible for mesothelioma VA benefits if you were exposed to asbestos and had an honorable discharge.

Request Immediate Legal Help

With over $30 billion available for victims through asbestos bankruptcy trust funds, you are entitled to financial compensations without ever filing an asbestos, lung cancer or mesothelioma lawsuit. You need legal representation to get started. Mesothelioma & lung cancer victims qualify immediately. Complete the form or call us toll-free (800) 352-0871 immediately.