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It was the anniversary of the devastating Pearl Harbour attack last week on December 7th, where the Japanese air strike killed over 2000 American soldiers on the same date in 1941.
Over 1000 other men were wounded in the surprise attack and it marked the start of America becoming involved in world war 11.
But in the years following the Pearl Harbour attack, many more men died as a result of being exposed to asbestos on that day as they worked in the shipyards that were destroyed.
Asbestos was a hidden danger that no-one at the time realised would cause even more devastation over the years to come.
75 years on from the Pearl Harbour attack, asbestos is still killing our war veterans.
It may surprise you, but while millions of veterans have died over the years in many wars defending our freedom, approximately 10,000 veterans die every year from an asbestos related disease. In America inparticularly, the military used asbestos as a fireproofing material. It was commonly used on the naval ships between the 1930’s and 1970’s.
Asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma can take a long time to display any symptoms. So many veterans exposed to asbestos will not begin to suffer with any symptoms until between 20 to 50 years later after being exposed.
One veteran was heard to be diagnosed 60 years after being exposed to asbestos.
But most soldiers will be completely unaware of the dangers they face when it comes to asbestos.
For them, they are too busy focusing on their mission at the time, and not the ‘hidden’ dangers they may encounter and the effects on their long term health and wellbeing.
All soldiers are in danger of being exposed to asbestos at some point in their career, but those most at risk of developing an asbestos related disease are the veterans who worked in the Navy on the ships that were built before the 1980’s.
Those veterans that are most affected at the moment are those who served in the Vietnam War and those who served in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
But even though more people than ever are now aware of the dangers of asbestos, many veterans are still not very clued up on the subject, and they also don’t realise they could claim disability allowance if they have a disease as a result of being in service.
But it can be very difficult to establish or pinpoint exactly when the person was first exposed, particularly as many servicemen who will have initially been exposed to asbestos in the military went onto work in jobs where they once again were exposed to asbestos.
Even though asbestos has been banned and is no longer used within the military, asbestos is still a threat for active servicemen and our younger veterans.
Our active soldiers and younger veterans may not be exposed to asbestos on naval ships anymore, but they can still be exposed to asbestos in certain parts of the world where asbestos is still used as a building material, such as the poorer third world countries.
So asbestos is still going to be a potential problem for past, current and future veterans.
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting https://www.armco.org.uk/
Alternatively, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for more information or to book a training course.