By the 1980s, the U.S. placed restrictions on asbestos use to protect from exposure. However, the limitations and legality of asbestos is different in each country. Servicemen and women are still exposed to the dangerous substance across the world. If an asbestos-containing ship is damaged, it may release toxic asbestos fibers in the air inhaled by the current service members. The exposure risk coupled with natural disasters and war continue to put our military members serving overseas at risk.
Veterans serving in Southeast Asia and the Middle East are the most at risk for asbestos exposure. While many Middle Eastern countries have banned the use of asbestos, the bans are loosely enforced. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) stated, “If you served in Iraq or other countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, you may have had contact with asbestos when old buildings got damaged, releasing toxic chemicals into the air. Or, you may have had contact with asbestos if you worked in certain jobs or settings, like shipyards, construction, or vehicle repair.”
As recently of 2018, contractors in Dubai have confirmed that the buildings and structures in the Middle East contain asbestos materials. The continued use of the toxic mineral places all military personal overseas at risk of exposure. Further, it puts veterans at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma.