Air Force Veterans and Mesothelioma
The U.S. Air Force was not recognized as a separate branch of the military until the enactment of the National Security Act of 1947. Under this law, the Department of Defense was created and it was to be made up of three distinct branches, the Army, Navy and Air Force. This new military service came into existence during the time the military was heavily reliant on asbestos.
The Air Force Found a Variety of Uses for Asbestos in its Base Structures
Asbestos was used throughout the military installations on a typical Air Force Base. It could be found in:
- Floor tile and vinyl flooring
- Pipes and pipe fittings
- Wall insulation
- Boiler insulation
- Hot water tank insulation
- Spray-on acoustical and fireproofing materials
- Wallboard joint compound
- Vibration dampeners on air handling systems
- Cement-covered flues, pipes, and siding
- Roofing materials
Asbestos Was a Major Component in Plane Parts
Air Force veterans who served as crewmen or mechanics were continuously exposed to asbestos because it was used throughout the planes manufactured since World War II.
Asbestos-containing parts included:
- Gaskets made of asbestos and metallic gaskets with asbestos filler
- Tadpole tapes used on jets for firewall seals
- Neoprene asbestos sheets use for sealing firewalls
- Neoprene asbestos seals for access panels, fire doors, cabin heating systems, and propeller assembly
- Aircraft stitching wire
- Asbestos tubing used to fireproof and insulate fuel lubrication and hydraulic lines
In addition to these exposures, aviation crash crews wore A-1 asbestos suits to fight fires and rescue personnel from burning planes. The suit was made of thick layers of asbestos and had an attached hood with a heat-resistant lens that was made with tinted glass. The crash crew also wore asbestos-containing gloves and boots.
The Burns Sir Force Radar Station is Declared a Public Health Hazard Because of Asbestos Contamination
The Air Force acquired this property in the 1950s to be used by the Air Force Aerospace Defense Command as an early warning ground radar site and communications receiver. It was in operation until 1970.
!n 2002, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality asked the Oregon Department of Human Services Superfund Health Investigation & Education Program to help in the assessment of health risks from asbestos exposure at the now abandoned site.
The assessment uncovered the following uses of asbestos at the station:
- Pipe wrap and insulation containing between 10 to 60percent amosite and chrysotile asbestos
- Wallboard containing between 10 to 25 percent chrysotile asbestos
- Tile and mastic containing between 5 to 8 percent chrysotile asbestos
Ellsworth Air Force Base Housing Contained Asbestos
After the Air Force performed an inspection of military housing, it discovered that asbestos was present in the Eagle Ridge housing area on Ellsworth Air Force Base. The survey revealed that asbestos was in floor tile mastic, the HVAC system, light fixture reflectors, wallboard joints and water pipes.
The Air Force advised residents of this housing to avoid any activities like drilling into walls that would loosen asbestos fibers and make them airborne.