Aviation Support Equipment Technicians and Asbestos Exposure

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For the better part of the last century, asbestos has been extensively used throughout the U.S. military to adequately fit out all branches to ensure they are best prepared for combat.

Asbestos was the "miracle material" that abounded the markets; it was cheap and had fire and chemical-resistant properties, making it suitable for mass production of military equipment for World War II. The shipbuilding industry took advantage and used more than 300 asbestos-containing materials on the vessels built for the Navy. Therefore, all personnel who served on ships built before the 1980s were inevitably exposed to the toxic mineral and may develop severe asbestos-related diseases decades later.

Asbestos becomes friable with wear and tear, releasing its microscopic fibers in the air. Ongoing maintenance and repair onboard the ships would increase the danger of inhaling or ingesting the toxic particles for everyone onboard, including aviation support technicians (AS). By the time the devastating effects of asbestos exposure became public in the early 1980s, thousands of veterans had suffered from being unknowingly exposed. Routine asbestos exposure on ships led to an increasing number of veterans being diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses during the last period. In some cases, the tiny asbestos fibers are at the core of malignant diseases such as:

Due to their size, asbestos fibers are easily inhaled and get caught in the lining of the lungs, and can't be eliminated because their microscopic barbs keep them lodged. They irritate the organs enough to cause acute inflammation, permanent scarring of the tissues, and tumor development over time. Veterans who have proof of asbestos exposure and are diagnosed with the cancers mentioned above are eligible for compensation and expedited claims.

Risking Asbestos Exposure While Serving on Aircraft Carriers

When the air wing is embarked, the aircraft carrier transports numerous aircraft, such as attack fighter jets, helicopters, and other types, all taking off from and landing aboard the carrier at sea. On the flight deck, some jobs implied higher exposure risks than others: aviation support technicians (AS) fulfilled duty in this loud environment with powerful vibrations and heavy air - optimal conditions for potential asbestos exposure.

By being part of the ship's crew while deployed on an aircraft carrier, AS carried out tasks, slept, and ate in bellow-deck compartments, another environment that further increased the risk of inhaling or ingesting asbestos particles. Aviation support technicians are a particular group of technicians that have played an integral role in keeping all Navy aircraft ready and flying since 1965, when the rating was established.

AS are the experts who work on various support equipment and vehicles at Naval air stations and aboard ships that carry Navy aircraft. It's no secret that no matter how well-maintained Navy aircraft are kept, they will only fly with the help of those who make their operational state possible. AS performed preventive and corrective maintenance on the following:

  • aviation support equipment
  • aviation armament handling equipment
  • aviation mobile firefighting units
  • material handling equipment
  • hoisting and lifting devices
  • associated components and systems

AS ensured that all the different support equipment was always working and ready to be used immediately if the situation required. AS's responsibilities included operating, maintaining, repairing, and testing of systems such as:

  • automotive electrical
  • gasoline and diesel
  • automotive hydraulics
  • automotive pneumatics

AS often worked in dangerous conditions, the tasks not allowing them to make mistakes. Pressing deadlines weren't an exception, and such situations required them to hurry at everything and still deliver a perfect job while handling:

  • wheels and tires with high-pressure
  • accumulators containing dangerous chemicals
  • fragile oxygen systems
  • heavy landing gear
  • turbine compressor units
  • power generating units

Besides the risk of asbestos exposure while onboard ships or even when working in hangars on naval air stations, AS faced the hazard of toxic exposure by being in contact with irritants and carcinogens to perform organizational- and intermediate-level maintenance, repair, service, and test complicated automotive systems in mobile and self-propelled aviation support equipment.

Diseases Linked to Asbestos Exposure Are Often Misdiagnosed

Conditions related to asbestos exposure are often asymptomatic, making them easy to misdiagnose and mistreat. Furthermore, the symptoms of lung conditions stemming from asbestos contamination resemble those of common lung affections. The inhaled microscopic asbestos particles are at the core of non-cancerous diseases such as:

Even if a non-cancerous diagnosis doesn't qualify veterans to receive compensation, these diseases carry a high risk of turning into cancer. They should be kept under observation through periodic chest X-rays and breathing tests. Requesting a second or even a third opinion from a medical specialist outside the VA is advisable, as it can ensure the correct assessment. A thorough evaluation is essential for finding the best-suited therapy, and with an exact cancer diagnosis, veterans may qualify for claims. You can help the diagnostic process by sharing information about possibly encountered asbestos exposure with your doctor and mentioning your military history. Offering information could make a significant difference in your medical evaluation and, thus, can add years to life.

An Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis May Qualify You to File a Claim

Due to the Navy's mandate of using asbestos in building ships until the mid-1970s, health issues linked to asbestos exposure have rapidly grown among the veterans who served on those vessels. Former Navy personnel battling cancer due to asbestos exposure during service may seek compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The severity of their condition will determine if they can receive multiple benefits.

Should you decide upon legal action and request payment from the asbestos trust funds and the VA to receive the deserved financial compensation, we can help by connecting you with the best legal specialist for your case.

If you have a cancer diagnosis please contact us

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