Mesothelioma & Marine Corps Veterans
Asbestos was commonly used by the military in all types of construction from the 1940s to the mid 1970s. The Marine Corps was no exception.
Marines Were Continually Exposed to Asbestos
Those who served in the Marine Corps were exposed to asbestos every day because it was extensively used in the cement pipes, ceiling tiles, wall insulation and roofing that were used to construct the barracks in which they lived. It was also built into the barrack’s foundation as well as the foundations of other base structures. Even the heating systems in buildings on a typical Marine base were lined with asbestos insulation.
And just as in the other branches of the military, Marine transport vehicles contained asbestos in brakes, gaskets, seals, fittings and the insulation that lined the compartments.
Even after asbestos use was banned, the exposure didn’t end. Asbestos removal from barracks, base operations facilities and machine shops was haphazardly performed, allowing asbestos particles to become airborne where they could be easily inhaled. In many instances, the asbestos removal was performed by crews of enlisted men, exposing them to even greater health risks.
Military Base Housing Exposed Marines and Their Families to Asbestos
In an article titled “What U.S Marines Stationed at Camp LeJeune Need to Know About Toxins in the Drinking Water”, published September 30, 2009 on Green Planet.com, Marye Audet says that:
“The Marine Corps suspected that there was asbestos coating the pipes and leaching into the water, too. Tests were done at Camp Grainger, Tarrawa Terrace (one and two), and LeJeune and found that not only was asbestos present but a variety of other VOC compounds were present. The wells supplying this water were finally shut down in 1984 . . .”
Audet and her Marine husband lived on the base at Camp LeJeune between 1957-1987 when the presence of these toxins posed health risks.
Asbestos contamination was also a problem in the base housing at Camp Pendelton. The Mountain Wire I housing units, built between 1950 and 1980, contained asbestos and toxic mold, according to allegations made by Tom Calabrese, a former military base housing inspector. He noted the contamination problems were worse in the older units.
The Navy’s Use of Asbestos for Insulation Impacted Those Who Served in the Marine Corps
It is well documented how extensively the Navy relied on asbestos in ship construction. It was used in boiler and engine rooms, and to create a heat shield between the living areas and the working areas aboard ship. It was also woven into the ropes that could be found everywhere on Navy vessels.
The Navy’s use of asbestos not only created health risks for its own personnel, but it also impacted on the health of those who served in the Marine Corp. Marine units were often assigned to Navy ships where they worked alongside Navy crews, employing Navy aircraft carriers as a base for the fighter-bombers that were flown on ship to shore missions. The Marines assigned to these operations would live aboard ship until the mission had been completed. This exposed them to the same level of asbestos as their Navy colleagues.