Asbestosis is a serious lung condition caused only by asbestos exposure. It develops decades after someone inhales asbestos fibers. The lungs are slowly irritated by these fibers, leading to scarring and difficulty breathing. U.S. veterans are at a higher risk of asbestosis, as the military relied on asbestos-based products for decades. Below, see how veterans can access military benefits, medical care, and compensation for asbestosis.
What Is Asbestosis?
Asbestosis occurs when microscopic asbestos fibers get lodged in the tiny sacs within the lungs (called alveoli). The fibers damage the alveoli and prevent the lungs from properly filling with air.
Asbestosis is a type of pulmonary fibrosis, or interstitial lung disease. In cases of pulmonary fibrosis, the lung becomes damaged due to irritation from a mineral like asbestos or other causes.
“Asbestosis […] is the prototype of diseases caused by inhalation of mineral fibers.”
– Pathology of Asbestos-Associated Diseases
Though asbestosis is not cancerous, it is still very dangerous. This incurable disease slowly worsens and can cause the affected lung to stop working.
Over time, asbestosis can lead to fatal outcomes like respiratory or heart failure. Those with asbestosis could also be at risk of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
Veterans & Asbestosis Risk
U.S. veterans that served between the 1930s and 1980s may be at a higher risk of asbestosis than the general public. The U.S. military heavily relied on asbestos-based products during this time, so many veterans were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis.
The military and most civilians didn’t know the dangers of asbestos for decades. The makers of asbestos-based products knew the truth as far back as the 1930s but hid it to keep profits high.
Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) understands the connection between asbestosis and military asbestos exposure and offers both medical care and compensation to those affected.
Veterans with asbestosis also may be able to take legal action against makers of asbestos-containing products who are responsible for their exposure. The military will not be sued as part of this process, and VA benefits won’t be affected.
Get a free veterans packet to learn how you can get benefits and compensation for asbestosis.