Asbestos on Air Force Bases

Quick Summary

Like every other U.S. military branch, the Air Force heavily relied on asbestos to build its bases between the 1930s and 1980s. Asbestos-containing products were used throughout military bases and Air Force planes. Learn if an Air Force base you served on was built with asbestos-containing products.

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Asbestos on Air Force Bases Explained

The Air Force used asbestos to build bases and planes for decades before the dangers of this material were revealed to the public.

Asbestos was used because it was highly durable and a good insulator. The health risks were hidden from the Air Force by makers of asbestos-based products, who put financial gain ahead of human life.

Asbestos on Air Force bases was found in:

  • Electrical equipment
  • Flooring and floor tiles
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Other construction materials

Many service members and their families may have been exposed to asbestos fibers while living on Air Force bases. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of a terminal cancer called mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis.

Asbestos Exposure in U.S. Military Veterans Video Thumbnail

Video Summary: VA-accredited attorney Eric Hall breaks down how U.S. veterans risked asbestos exposure while they served. Between the 1930s and early 1980s, all U.S. military branches relied on asbestos-based products. The risks of asbestos were hidden by manufacturers. U.S. Navy veterans were at the greatest risk. VA benefits can help veterans who develop asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma after serving. Call (877) 450-8973 to get started. View Transcript

Military members who served between the 1930s and 1980s were very likely exposed to asbestos, particularly in the Navy because asbestos was used throughout the ships to insulate pipes and insulate their boiler systems. And of course, the Marines were also on ships for extended periods of time when they were going from one place to another. Also, the Air Force used asbestos extensively, particularly in parts for airplanes. The army and the Marine Corps also use asbestos throughout their buildings on base to help insulate various pipes. If the veteran believes they were exposed to asbestos while serving in, the number one thing they can do is put the VA notice that they intend to file for VA benefits. The Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help with that process and we encourage veterans to call and find out how we can help them.

Furthermore, some bases still contain asbestos even now, despite major asbestos abatement jobs to remove as much of it as possible.

Thankfully, Airmen currently facing mesothelioma can pursue financial and medical benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as well as legal compensation.

Notable Air Force Bases That Used Asbestos

Our team has identified over 100 different U.S. Air Force bases that used asbestos-containing products. Learn how key Air Force bases used asbestos below.

Edwards Air Force Base

Edwards Air Force Base is located about 100 miles away from Los Angeles. Because this base has been active since the 1930s, many of its structures contained asbestos at one time.

Two green-grey Air Force bases. The left one is shaped in a semicircle and the right one is shaped in a square

The Los Angeles Times reported that Edwards Air Force Base once spent $1 million to remove asbestos insulation from its hospital, which had been built in 1955.

Today, according to its website, Edwards Air Force Base follows strict guidelines to ensure that no one is exposed to asbestos-containing products during new construction or renovation.

Scott Air Force Base

Scott Air Force Base was built in 1917 and is located in southern Illinois. Due to the age of this base, many older buildings contained asbestos. While the risks of asbestos became widely known in the early 1980s, asbestos remained in many buildings on Scott Air Force Base well into the 2000s.

In 2008, Scott Air Force Base undertook a major renovation project that cost nearly $200 million to safely demolishing older asbestos-containing buildings. Precautions were taken throughout the process to ensure construction workers weren’t put at risk.

Did you or a loved one develop mesothelioma after serving in the U.S. Air Force? Call (877) 450-8973 to get help now.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Also built in 1917, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is just east of Dayton, Ohio. Asbestos products were used in many structures on this base, and some are still present even today.

A 2020 report from the Department of Defense’s Inspector General found that the military family housing on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and seven other bases may have exposed people to asbestos and other toxins.

Lackland Air Force Base

Construction on Lackland Air Force Base started in 1941, just before the United States entered World War II. It merged with Randolph Air Force Base and U.S. Army Fort Sam Houston in 2010 to form Joint Base San Antonio.

Many buildings on this base contained asbestos, including its academic hall, commissary, and hospital. Even the science laboratory, nursery, and bowling center on base used asbestos.

Asbestos is still present in some buildings to this day. A group of families living on Lackland Air Force Base and two other bases filed a lawsuit in 2021 after dealing with asbestos, mold, and lead-based paint in military housing. The military homes on these bases were managed by a private company.

Randolph Air Force Base

Opening in June 1930 near San Antonio, Randolph Air Force Base originally started as a training center under the name Randolph Field. Randolph Air Force Base is now part of Joint Base San Antonio.

Unfortunately, like many older bases, asbestos is woven into the history of Randolph Air Force Base. Asbestos could be found in the air conditioning facility, hangars, storage areas, maintenance rooms, and dozens of other buildings.

Asbestos may even pose a threat on Randolph Air Force Base today. Families living on the base’s military housing sued in 2019, stating that private contractors failed to address problems with asbestos and other toxins. The lawsuit claimed that “asbestos and lead-based paint fill the air.”

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List of U.S. Air Force Bases Built With Asbestos

The bases listed above are only a few that were built with asbestos. Below is a list of over 100 bases throughout the country that used asbestos products and may have put military veterans at risk.

  • 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
    • Tin City Air Force Station
  • Arizona
    • Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
    • Luke Air Force Base
  • Arkansas
    • Eacker Air Force Base (AKA Blytheville Air Force Base)
    • Little Rock Air Force Base
  • California
    • Beale Air Force Base
    • Camp Parks Air Force Base
    • Castle Air Force Base, Merced
    • Edwards Air Force Base (AKA Muroc Air Force Base)
    • Hamilton Air Force Base
    • Los Angeles Air Force Base
    • March Air Force Base (AKA March Air Reserve Base)
    • Mather Air Force Base
    • Mcclellan Air Force Base
    • Norton Air Force Base
    • Travis Air Force Base
    • Onizuka Air Force Station
    • Oxnard Air Force Base
    • Vandenberg Air Force Base (AKA Vandenberg Space Force Base)
  • Colorado
    • Buckley Air Force Base (AKA Buckley Space Force Base)
    • Lowry Air Force Base
    • Peterson Air Force Base
    • United States Air Force Academy
  • Delaware
    • Dover Air Force Base
  • Florida
    • Patrick Air Force Base
    • Cape Kennedy Air Force Station (AKA Cape Canaveral Space Force Station)
    • Eglin Air Force Base
    • Homestead Air Force Base (AKA Homestead Air Reserve Base)
    • Hurlburt Field
    • MacDill Air Force Base
    • McCoy Air Force Base (AKA Pinecastle Air Force Base)
    • Tyndall Air Force Base
  • Georgia
    • Dobbins Air Force Base (AKA Dobbins Air Reserve Base)
    • Hunter Air Force Base (AKA Hunter Army Airfield)
    • Robins Air Force Base
    • Turner Air Force Base (AKA Naval Air Station Albany)
  • Hawaii
    • Hickam Air Force Base
  • Idaho
    • Mountain Home Air Force Base
  • Illinois
    • Chanute Air Force Base
    • Hanna City Air Force Station
    • Scott Air Force Base
  • Indiana
    • Bunker Hill Air Force Base (AKA Grissom Air Force Base/Grissom Air Reserve Base)
  • Kansas
    • Forbes Air Force Base
    • Liberal Army Air Field
    • McConnell Air Force Base
    • Schilling Air Force Base (AKA Smoky Hill Army Air Field)
  • Maine
    • Loring Air Force Base (AKA Limestone Air Force Base)
    • Topsham Air Force Base
  • Maryland
    • Andrews Air Force Base
  • Massachusetts
    • Hanscom Air Force Base
    • North Truro Air Force Base
    • Otis Air Force Base (AKA Otis Air National Guard Base)
    • Westover Air Reserve Base
  • Michigan
    • K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base
    • Selfridge Air Force Base (AKA Selfridge Air National Guard Base)
    • Wurtsmith Air Force Base
  • Minnesota
    • Duluth Air National Guard Base
  • Mississippi
    • Greenville Air Force Base
    • Keesler Air Force Base
  • Missouri
    • Richards-Gebaur Air Force Station (AKA Richards-Gebaur Air Reserve Station), Kansas City
    • Whiteman Air Force Base, Johnson County
  • Montana
    • Glasgow Air Force Base
    • Malmstrom Air Force Base
    • Miles City Air Force Station
  • Nebraska
    • Offutt Air Force Base
  • Nevada
    • Nellis Air Force Base
    • Stead Air Force Base
  • New Hampshire
    • Portsmouth Air Force Base (AKA Pease Air Force Base)
  • New Jersey
    • Gibbsboro Air Force Station
    • Mcguire Air Force Base
  • New Mexico
    • Holloman Air Force Base
    • Kirtland Air Force Base
  • New York
    • Griffiss Air Force Base
    • Hancock Field Air National Guard Base (AKA Syracuse Air Force Station)
    • Mitchel Air Force Base
    • Plattsburgh Air Force Base
    • Sampson Air Force Base
    • Stewart Air Force Base
  • North Dakota
    • Grand Forks Air Force Base
    • Minot Air Force Base
  • Ohio
    • Lockbourne Air Force Base (AKA Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base)
    • Newark Air Force Base
    • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
  • Oklahoma
    • Altus Air Force Base
    • Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base
    • Tinker Air Force Base
  • Pennsylvania
    • Benton Air Force Station
    • Olmsted Air Force Base (AKA Harrisburg Air National Guard Base)
  • Rhode Island
    • Quonset Point Air National Guard Station
  • South Carolina
    • Charleston Air Force Base
  • South Dakota
    • Ellsworth 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
    • Kelly Air Force Base (AKA Kelly Field)
    • Lackland Air Force Base
    • Laredo Air Force Base
    • Laughlin Air Force Base
    • Perrin Air Force Base
    • Randolph Air Force Base
    • Sheppard Air Force Base
    • Webb Air Force Base (AKA Big Spring Air Force Base)
  • Utah
    • Hill Air Force Base
  • Vermont
    • Ethan Allen Air Force Base (AKA Burlington Air National Guard Base)
  • Virginia
    • Langley Air Force Base
  • Washington
    • Fairchild Air Force Base
    • Larson Air Force Base (AKA Moses Lake Army Air Base)
    • Mcchord Air Force Base
    • Othello Air Force Station
  • Wisconsin
    • Truax Air Force Base (AKA Truax Field Air National Guard Base)
  • Wyoming
    • Francis E. Warren Air Force Base

If you were exposed to asbestos on an Air Force base and don’t see it listed, call (877) 450-8973 or chat now.

International Air Force Bases With Asbestos

Asbestos was not only used on Air Force bases within the United States. International Air Force bases may have also contained this dangerous material — potentially putting U.S. soldiers at risk abroad.

International Air Force bases built with asbestos include:

  • Aviano Air Base (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
  • Clark Air Base (Luzon Island, the Philippines)
  • Kadena Air Base (Okinawa, Japan)
  • Ramstein Air Base (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany)
  • Suwon Air Base (Suwon, South Korea)
  • Torrejon Air Force Base (Madrid, Spain)

Sadly, asbestos was left behind on many of these bases despite cleanup efforts. It is believed that hundreds have gotten sick from asbestos exposure on just the Kadena Air Base alone.

Risks of Asbestos on Air Force Bases

Asbestos-containing products could be found throughout Air Force bases. The U.S. military believed asbestos was a safe, cheap, and highly effective construction material for decades. Makers of asbestos-based products hid the dangerous facts about asbestos to keep their profits high.

Asbestos could be found in:

  • Boilers
  • Cement sheeting
  • Doors
  • Drywall
  • Electric wiring and equipment
  • Gaskets
  • Heating systems
  • Insulation
  • Pipes
  • Roofing, flooring, and floor tiles

The Air Force also used asbestos in the clutches, brakes, heat shields, and engines of planes housed on these bases. This put Air Force mechanics and others who worked on the planes at a high risk of exposure while staying on bases.

Other jobs that put Airmen at risk of asbestos exposure included:

  • Construction and demolition workers
  • Electricians
  • Firefighters
  • Welders

Secondhand Exposure Among Family Members

Air Force personnel may bring their families to live on the base with them. These civilians may have also been put at risk of asbestos exposure on Air Force bases, especially if nearby buildings were under construction or were deteriorating.

However, families who lived on bases and off were at risk due to secondhand asbestos exposure. Air Force personnel exposed to asbestos on a base may have carried the toxic dust home on their clothes, accidentally exposing their families as well.

VA Benefits & Legal Help for Air Force Veterans

Military veterans do not deserve to develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Thankfully, Air Force veterans with mesothelioma can access financial aid and health care benefits through the VA and by taking legal action.

Veterans with mesothelioma can file for:

  • Asbestos trust fund compensation: Courts forced makers of asbestos-based products that filed for bankruptcy to create trust funds for victims. Veterans can access part of over $30 billion available from these funds.
  • Legal compensation: Veterans can sue makers of asbestos-based products that haven’t filed for bankruptcy. Legal compensation from mesothelioma lawsuits awards $1 million on average. Work with experienced mesothelioma attorneys to file right now.
  • VA benefits: These benefits include monthly payouts and treatment from top VA doctors. Filing lawsuits or trust fund claims won’t affect a veteran’s ability to file for VA benefits.

Our VA-accredited claims agents can help you pursue VA benefits and legal compensation right now. Chat with a representative to get started.

FAQs About Asbestos on Air Force Bases

Why was asbestos used on Air Force bases if it was harmful?

The U.S. Air Force didn’t know the dangers of asbestos. Makers of asbestos-based products concealed the dangerous facts so they wouldn’t lose the military’s business.

The U.S. Air Force relied on the use of asbestos because it was fireproof, durable, and a good insulator. None of these positives outweigh the deadly harm that asbestos can cause.

Did Air Force planes contain asbestos?

Yes. Asbestos was also found in planes and other aircraft. Asbestos was used in airplane brakes, brake pads, electrical wiring, gaskets, insulation, and other airplane parts.

Do U.S. Air Force bases still have asbestos in them?

Yes. Many Air Force bases built when asbestos was in use are still standing today. Despite the military’s efforts to remove asbestos, some of these bases have asbestos on them.

While older asbestos-containing materials don’t pose a threat to human health if they are in good shape and not disturbed, the risks are not to be taken lightly.

A group of Air Force and Army families recently filed a lawsuit after dealing with asbestos, other toxins, and pest infestations in housing units of Sheppard Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base, and Fort Bliss. The military wasn’t sued as the homes were controlled by a private company.

What can I do if I was exposed to asbestos on an Air Force base?

See a doctor if symptoms of mesothelioma (a cough, shortness of breath, weight loss) appear and you were exposed to asbestos on an Air Force base decades ago. Mesothelioma has a long latency period, so it can take decades for symptoms to appear.

You can get medical treatments and financial aid from the VA. You can also pursue even more financial compensation by taking legal action and filing asbestos trust fund claims. Get started now – chat with our team.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

View 10 Sources
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