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Asbestos Exposure and Air Force Bases

Air Force bases were constructed with asbestos in almost all of their structures to prevent fires and control excess heat, as well as provide insulation. Many of the bases were constructed during the height of asbestos use, and the mineral is still present on many Air Force bases today.

Millions of Air Force veterans, aircraft mechanics and Army families who lived on more than 75 military bases across the United States may have been exposed to harmful asbestos during their time of service. Those who are now serving may still be exposed to asbestos on base, leaving them at high risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

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Asbestos Use at Air Force Bases

Asbestos was used heavily across all branches of the military, including on military bases. Many Air Force bases were constructed in the 1940s, when asbestos materials could be found almost anywhere. Asbestos products could be found in vinyl floor and ceiling tiles, cement and insulation materials in piping and other structures within living quarters, common areas and dining facilities on base. Asbestos-containing wallboard, roofing and adhesives were also used to build Air Force housing and other structures. This excessive asbestos use left veterans, Air Force families and other civilians who lived on base at risk of asbestos exposure. Even families who did not reside on base faced potential secondary exposure from veterans or civilian workers who unknowingly brought asbestos fibers home on their person.

Asbestos was also frequently used in the construction of Air Force planes. Heat shields and other equipment were made with the mineral to protect passengers and the plane itself from fires, crashes and excess heat. The mineral is not yet banned nationally, which means asbestos can still be found in some of these locations and present dangers when it becomes friable or when repairs are made to the machinery or structures. Since many of these bases still contain hazardous minerals and chemicals, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists many Air Force bases as Superfund sites. This allows them to clean up sites with hazardous materials to keep those on active duty, civilian workers on base and other individuals safe from exposure to contaminants.

Air Force bases in the following list are known to have utilized asbestos and caused exposure.

Alabama

  • Brookley Air Force Base
  • Gunter Air Force Base
  • Maxwell Air Force Base

Alaska

  • Eielson Air Force Base
  • Elmendorf Air Force Base
  • Ladd Air Force Base

Arizona

  • Luke Air Force Base
  • Williams Air Force Base

California

  • Edwards Air Force Base
  • Hamilton Field Air Force Base
  • March Air Force Base
  • Mcclellan Air Force Base
  • Norton Air Force Base
  • Travis Air Force Base
  • Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • Vandenburg Air Force Base

Colorado

  • Lowry Air Force Base

Delaware

  • Dover Air Force Base

Florida

  • Egland Air Force Base
  • Homestead Air Force Base
  • Mcdill Air Force Base
  • Orlando Air Force Base
  • Patrick Air Force Base
  • Tyndall Air Force Base

Georgia

  • Dobbins Air Force Base
  • Hunter Air Force Base
  • Robins Air Force Base

Illinois

  • Chanute Air Force Base
  • Scott Air Force Base

Indiana

  • Bakalar Air Force Base
  • Bunker Hill Air Force Base

Kansas

  • Forbes Air Force Base
  • Mcconnell Air Force Base
  • Schilling Air Force Base

Louisiana

  • Barksdale Air Force Base

Maine

  • Dow Air Force Base
  • Loring Air Force Base

Massachusetts

  • Bedford Air Force Base
  • Hanscom Air Force Base
  • Westover Air Force Base

Michigan

  • Sawyer Air Force Base
  • Selfridge Air Force Base

Minnesota

  • Duluth Air Force Base

Missouri

  • Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base
  • Scott Air Force Base
  • Whiteman Air Force Base

New York

  • Griffis Air Force Base
  • Hancock Air Force Base

Ohio

  • Lockbourne Air Force Base
  • Wilkins Air Force Base
  • Wright Patterson Air Force Base

Oklahoma

  • Tinker Air Force Base

Pennsylvania

  • Middletown Air Force Base

Rhode Island

  • Smithfield Air Force Base

South Carolina

  • Charleston Air Force Base
  • Donaldson Air Force Base
  • Shaw Air Force Base

South Dakota

  • Ellsworth Air Force Base
  • Rapid City Air Force Base

Tennessee

  • Arnold Air Force Base

Texas

  • Amarillo Air Force Base
  • Bergstrom Air Force Base
  • Brooks Air Force Base
  • Carswell Air Force Base
  • Connally Air Force Base
  • Goodfellow Air Force Base
  • Kelly Air Force Base
  • Laredo Air Force Base
  • Midland Air Force Base
  • Reese Air Force Base
  • Sheppard Air Force Base

Utah

  • Hill Air Force Base

Washington

  • Fairchild Air Force Base Hospital
  • Larson Air Force Base
  • US Air Force, McChord AFB

Washington, D.C.

  • Andrews Air Force Base

Wisconsin

  • Traux Air Force Base

Air Force Veterans and Mesothelioma Risk

U.S. military veterans, those currently serving and military families may be at risk of developing mesothelioma or other illnesses as a result of asbestos exposure on Air Force bases. Maintenance work and damage to asbestos structures often caused veterans to inhale asbestos fibers, which can cause mesothelioma. Proper precautions were not taken during peak asbestos use, increasing veterans' risk of exposure and asbestos-related diseases. Unfortunately, veterans were among the most commonly exposed individuals, as one out of every three mesothelioma diagnoses is a veteran.

Agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have since implemented laws and regulations to mitigate exposure risks for those currently serving, civilian workers and their families. Although there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, agencies implemented laws that require individuals in asbestos-contaminated jobsites to wear protective equipment and respirators, as well as limiting access to areas that are deemed high risk for exposure.

Author: Tara Strand

Senior Content Writer

Tara Strand

Reviewer: Jennifer R. Lucarelli

Lawyer for Mesothelioma Victims and Their Families

Jennifer R. Lucarelli
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Sources

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Asbestos.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Asbestos Exposure.

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