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Chemical Exposure of our Military Personnel



Exposure to asbestos-containing material (ACM) that is dry and may be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure can lead to asbestosis (scarring of the lung tissue), mesothelioma, and other forms of cancer; diseases that typically strike 20-30 years after exposure. (

Asbestos is the generic name for a group of minerals. The naturally occurring group of minerals has been used for over 2000 years because it has the ability to withstand fire and insulate against heat. Asbestos is used in over 3,600 commercial and industrial products because it is readily available, low in cost, nonflammable, strong, flexible, a good thermal and sound insulator, and resistant to chemical corrosion. ( Manufacturers have had scientific evidence of asbestos dangers since the 1940s but have been involved with cover-ups and industry deception. (

Its use greatly increased during World War II as the military used it for fireproofing and insulation. (Jack Mason Sr., Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Aug. 14, 2006)

Asbestos was sprayed on steel beams in buildings to prevent structural members from collapsing in case of fire. Asbestos cement products were used to enhance strength in siding and roofing shingles, wallboard, and pipes. Asbestos has also been added to asphalt, vinyl, and other materials to make products such as roofing felts, exterior siding, floor tile, joint compounds, and adhesives. Asbestos was also used as a thermal insulator on boilers and pipes and as a sound insulator in plaster. ( See Attachment A: List of Suspect Asbestos Containing Materials

In regards to dangerous levels of exposure to asbestos, construction workers are at the greatest risk. It is possible that the insulation, roofing, and walls of any building built before 1980 houses asbestos containing materials. Exposure to asbestos can occur when repairs, demolition, alteration or maintenance of a structure containing asbestos construction materials is performed. (

Asbestos is only harmful when its fibers become airborne and are inhaled or ingested. Once these fibers are inhaled or ingested, they may become trapped in the lungs or the digestive tract permanently, causing serious illness or disease such as lung cancer. (

If a construction worker is exposed to more than 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter during an eight hour day or 1 fiber per cubic centimeter in a thirty minute period, they run the risk of developing asbestosis, mesothelioma, or other related cancers. Workers exposed to asbestos may not develop any symptoms for up to forty years. (

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in asbestos-related injuries and illnesses. While smoking is the highest risk factor for lung cancer, frequent workplace or non-occupational exposure to high levels of asbestos is another leading cause of the disease. Studies have found that workers who are regularly exposed to asbestos increase their risk of lung cancer by seven to ten times that those in the general population. Additionally, smokers exposed to asbestos fibers are fifty times more likely to develop lung cancer than the general public, and are fifty to one-hundred times more likely to die from lung cancer. (

Lung cancer is difficult to diagnose early, spreads at a rapid rate, and is rarely cured. Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure typically occurs at a younger age than other lung cancers and is most likely found in the lower lobes.



List of Suspect Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM)

[Note: The following list (compiled by EPA Region 6) is intended as a general guide to show which types of materials may contain asbestos. It does not include every product or material that contains asbestos.]

Acoustical Plaster

Base Flashing

Breaching Insulation

Cement Pipes



Electrical Panel Partitions

Fire Blankets

Fireproofing Materials

Heating and Electrical Ducts

Joint Compounds

Packing Materials

Roofing Shingles

Taping Compounds (thermal)

Vinyl Floor Tile



Blown-in Insulation


Cement Siding

Construction Mastics/Adhesives

Electric Wiring Insulation

Elevator Brake Shoes

Fire Curtains

Flexible Fabric Connections

High Temperature Gaskets

Laboratory Gloves

Pipe Insulation

Spackling Compounds

Textured Paints/Coatings

Vinyl Sheet Flooring Cooling Towers

Asphalt Floor Tile

Boiler Insulation

Ceiling Tiles and Lay-in Panels

Cement Wallboard

Decorative Plaster

Electrical Cloth

Elevator Equipment Panels

Fire Doors

Flooring Backing

HVAC Duct Insulation

Laboratory Hoods/Table Tops

Roofing Felt

Spray-Applied Insulation

Thermal Paper Products

Vinyl Wall Coverings