Asbestos on Army Bases

Quick Summary

The U.S. Army relied on asbestos to build bases between the 1930s and early 1980s. The Army didn't realize asbestos exposure could cause deadly cancers like mesothelioma until thousands had already been put at risk. Today, those who developed mesothelioma after working around asbestos on an Army base can pursue military veterans benefits and financial aid.

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How Was Asbestos Used on Army Bases?

The U.S. Army used asbestos-containing products on its bases for over four decades without knowing its deadly risks.

Asbestos is a cancer-causing material that was widely used on U.S. Army bases across the world. Products strengthened with asbestos could cheaply keep Army bases fireproof, durable, and well-insulated.

Army bases often used asbestos in:

  • Asphalt cement and shingles
  • Boiler rooms
  • Construction materials
  • Drywall
  • Electrical wiring
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Joint compound
  • Piping
  • Tile

The U.S. military valued this substance so much that it actually required certain asbestos products to be used on all its installations for decades.

However, the benefits of asbestos did not outweigh the dangers. Anyone exposed to asbestos materials may develop mesothelioma or other deadly diseases later in life.

Sadly, the U.S. Army was largely unaware of the risks as the makers of asbestos-based products hid the facts. This put thousands of service members at risk of mesothelioma later on in life after their service.

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U.S. veterans account for 33% of all mesothelioma cases due to the widespread use of asbestos in the military. Anyone who lived on an Army base before the mid-1980s may have been exposed — especially those who worked around asbestos-based products on a regular basis.

Thousands had already been exposed before the risks of asbestos were publicly known. The U.S. Army stopped using asbestos and removed most asbestos from existing bases in the early 1980s.

Thankfully, veterans now facing mesothelioma after military service can access a number of benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including financial aid and treatment.

Notable Army Bases That Used Asbestos

Fort Bragg

Built in 1918, Fort Bragg is one of the largest U.S. Army bases still in operation. Unfortunately, Fort Bragg was home to dozens of structures that contained asbestos.

Asbestos was used throughout Fort Bragg prior to the 1980s in barracks, family housing, and even fire stations.

While the Army took steps to remove asbestos in the 1980s, not all asbestos-based products were removed from Fort Bragg and other bases. This means some structures on Fort Bragg still contain this deadly material today.

a vintage (black and white) photo of an Army base

In 2008, 10 Army paratroopers were exposed to asbestos while removing old tile in a storage room on Fort Bragg. The paratroopers did not get any protective equipment during their work. The U.S. Army agreed to monitor the soldiers’ health moving forward to prevent and treat mesothelioma symptoms.

Fort Campbell

This Army installation is situated directly on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. Construction on the base finished in 1942, around the time the military increased their use of asbestos for World War II.

Fort Campbell used asbestos in:

  • Cement pipes
  • Ceiling and floor tile
  • Felt pipe
  • Insulation
  • Roofing

Some of the asbestos-based structures built on Fort Campbell during World War II were not supposed to be permanent, yet remained in place for decades after. The Army finally started to demolish some of these structures in 2021 to safely remove asbestos and other hazardous materials.

Asbestos in Army barracks and housing on Fort Campbell also posed risks to families in the 20th century and beyond. At the turn of the millennium, over 200 families may have been exposed to asbestos during a remodeling project on one of Fort Campbell’s family housing units.

Call (877) 450-8973 if you developed mesothelioma from military bases. You may qualify for VA benefits and financial aid.

Fort Hood

Located near Killeen, Texas, this is the Army’s largest active-duty installation. Fort Hood was constructed in 1942 as a home for tank destroyers. The base can support two fully armored divisions.

Fort Hood used asbestos-based products like floor tiles throughout buildings and housing for its military families. It was also found in secret tunnels that led to a storage unit for atomic weapons.

Many Fort Hood buildings still contain asbestos today despite removal efforts. In 2020, families living on Fort Hood complained that mold and asbestos are still present in older homes on the base. The families filed a lawsuit against the private company that manages Fort Hood’s housing.

Fort Benning

Fort Benning is located near Columbus, Georgia and was established in 1918. It was home to nearly 100,000 soldiers — and dozens of buildings laced with asbestos — during World War II. This put Army service members at risk of mesothelioma from this military base.

Sadly, many asbestos-containing buildings remained on Fort Benning up through the 1980s and beyond. Some World War II-era structures on Fort Benning still had asbestos intact as recently as 2016, but the Army ordered them to be safely demolished.

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Fort Lewis (Joint Base Lewis-McChord)

Located near Tacoma, Washington, Fort Lewis dates back to 1917. Fort Lewis merged with the McChord airfield (controlled by the U.S. Air Force) in 2010.

Like many older Army bases around the country, Fort Lewis built most of its structures using asbestos-based products before the risks were well-known. Everything from Army barracks, chapels, maintenance sheds, and even libraries used this dangerous substance.

Over 100 asbestos-containing structures on the base were still standing as of 2019, when demolition began to make room for more modern structures.

Fort Knox

Located near Louisville, Kentucky, Fort Knox heavily relied on asbestos in a variety of ways. This toxic substance was used to insulate many of the structures where Army personnel would work and live. In particular, boiler rooms in Fort Knox contained a lot of asbestos insulation.

Army buildings were not the only place soldiers may have been exposed to asbestos on Fort Knox, though. A report from the 1980s noted that Fort Knox’s U.S. Army Armor Center didn’t do enough to control asbestos exposure among mechanics working on vehicle brakes.

Army vehicles often contained asbestos-based parts, and repair jobs could send asbestos dust flying into the air that mechanics breathed in.

Thankfully, VA benefits are available if you developed mesothelioma after serving on an Army base. See if you can file a VA claim to pursue benefits right now.

List of U.S. Army Bases Built With Asbestos

Dozens of Army bases, camps, and forts across the United States were built with asbestos-containing products. See if an U.S. Army base you served on used asbestos below.

  • Alabama
    • Anniston Army Depot Base
    • Fort McClellan Army Base
    • Fort Rucker
    • Redstone Arsenal Army Base
  • Alaska
    • Fort Greely
    • Fort Richardson Army Base
    • Fort Wainwright
  • Arizona
    • Camp Navajo
    • Fort Huachuca
    • Yuma Proving Ground
  • Arkansas
    • Camp Joseph Robinson
    • Fort Chaffee
    • Pine Bluff Arsenal
  • California
    • Camp Haan
    • Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area (PRFTA)
    • Camp Roberts
    • Camp San Luis Obispo
    • Fort Hunter Liggett
    • Fort Irwin
    • Presidio of Monterey
    • Sierra Army Depot
  • Colorado
    • Fort Carson
    • Pueblo Chemical Depot
  • Georgia
    • Camp Frank D. Merrill
    • Fort Benning
    • Fort Gillem
    • Fort Gordon
    • Fort McPherson
    • Fort Stewart
    • Hunter Army Airfield
  • Hawaii
    • Fort Derussy
    • Fort Shafter
    • Pohakuloa Training Area
    • Schofield Barracks
    • Tripler Medical Center
    • Wheeler Army Airfield Base
  • Illinois
    • Camp Price Support Center
    • Rock Island Arsenal
  • Iowa
    • Camp Dodge
    • Fort Des Moines
    • Iowa Army Plant
  • Kansas
    • Fort Leavenworth
    • Fort Riley
    • U.S. Disciplinary Barracks
  • Kentucky
    • Blue Grass Army Depot
    • Fort Campbell
    • Fort Knox
  • Maryland
    • Aberdeen Proving Ground
    • Fort Detrick
    • Fort Meade
  • Massachusetts
    • Fort Devens
    • Soldier Systems Center
  • Michigan
    • Detroit Arsenal
  • Missouri
    • Fort Leonard Wood
  • Nevada
    • Hawthorne Army Depot
  • New Jersey
    • Fort Dix
    • Fort Monmouth
    • Picatinny Arsenal
  • New Mexico
    • Los Alamos Demolition
    • White Sands Missile Range
  • New York
    • Fort Drum
    • Fort Hamilton
    • U.S. Military Academy
    • Watervliet Arsenal
  • North Carolina
    • Camp Mackall
    • Fort Bragg
    • Simmons Army Airfield
  • Oklahoma
    • Fort Sill
    • McAlester Army Ammunition
  • Oregon
    • Umatilla Chemical Depot
  • Pennsylvania
    • Carlisle Barracks
    • Letterkenny Army Depot
    • New Cumberland Army Depot
    • Tobyhanna Army Depot
  • South Carolina
    • Fort Jackson
  • Tennessee
    • Holston Army Plant
    • Milan Army Ammunition
  • Texas
    • Biggs Army Airfield
    • Camp Bowie
    • Camp Bullis
    • Camp Mabry
    • Camp Stanley Storage Activity
    • Camp Swift
    • Corpus Christi Army Depot
    • Fort Bliss
    • Fort Hood
    • Fort Sam Houston
    • Martindale Army Airfield
    • Red River Army Depot
  • Virginia
    • Fort AP Hill
    • Fort Belvoir
    • Fort Eustis
    • Fort Lee
    • Fort Monroe
    • Fort Myer
    • Fort Pickett
    • Radford Army Ammunition
    • Warrenton Training Center
  • Washington
    • Camp Murray
    • Fort Lewis
    • Yakima Training Center
  • Wisconsin
    • Fort McCoy

Asbestos Exposure on International U.S. Army Bases

The list above consists of some of the most well-known Army bases located on U.S. soil that used asbestos. However, thousands of soldiers stationed at U.S. Army forts and bases around the world may have also been exposed to asbestos.

Other countries that are home to U.S. Army bases include:

  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • South Korea

Many Army bases around the world may have been built using asbestos if they were established prior to the 1980s.

Who Was Most at Risk of Asbestos Exposure on Army Bases?

An older veteran salutes an American flag

While anyone who lived or worked on U.S. Army bases in the mid-20th century may have been exposed to asbestos, some Army personnel were at a very high risk.

Those who worked around asbestos-based products on a regular basis could easily inhale or swallow stray fibers without notice.

People most at risk of asbestos on Army bases include:

  • Artillery personnel
  • Boilermakers and furnace tenders
  • Carpenters
  • Construction workers
  • Demolition/renovation workers
  • Drywallers
  • Electricians
  • Firefighters
  • Heavy and light equipment mechanics
  • Insulators
  • Maintenance crew members
  • Mechanics
  • Millwrights
  • Painters
  • Pipefitters
  • Plumbers
  • Renovation and demolition specialists
  • Tank and armored vehicle personnel
  • Weapons technicians
  • Welders and metal workers
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The vast majority of service members had no idea they were endangering their respiratory health by working on asbestos-contaminated military bases.

“Up to date, no safe level of asbestos exposure has been determined, and it is generally assumed that ‘zero’ exposure is the level most protective of human health. Because of the small size of asbestos fibers, it is possible for the smallest to remain airborne for weeks.”

– Environmental Protection Agency

Secondhand Exposure Among Family Members

U.S. Army bases aren’t simply a place for military operations. Many families lived together on U.S. Army bases. Family members may have suffered from secondhand asbestos exposure if a service member they loved was exposed.

For example, an Army mechanic covered in brake dust containing asbestos could have exposed family members by bringing the fibers home with them.

Family members living in Army installations may have also been exposed to asbestos during renovation projects. These projects may have easily kicked up asbestos dust into the air nearby.

Get a free veterans packet if you developed mesothelioma and may have been exposed to asbestos on an Army base. You may qualify for financial compensation.

Mesothelioma Veterans GuideGet a FREE Veterans Packet

Get information on:

  • Top Treatment
  • Best Doctors
  • Improving Prognosis

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Help for Army Veterans With Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are devastating, but help is available for veterans.

For example, veterans can pursue VA benefits after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Veterans with mesothelioma often receive over $3,000 a month in disability compensation if they’re eligible. Veterans may also access health care for their cancer through the VA and secure benefits for their loved ones.

To qualify for VA benefits, veterans must:

  • Have an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma
  • Have not been dishonorably discharged
  • Prove that their disease is connected to their Army service

Veterans with mesothelioma may also file legal claims or asbestos trust fund claims to pursue even more compensation.

Legal claims demand that manufacturers of asbestos-based products pay for the harm done. Asbestos trust fund claims allow veterans to access money from bankrupt companies. No legal action is taken against the U.S. Armed Forces.

You can file for VA benefits right now with help from our VA-accredited claims agents and mesothelioma lawyers. Our team can also help you take legal action if you qualify.

Asbestos Exposure on U.S. Army Bases: Common Questions

Why did the U.S. Army use asbestos on its bases if it was dangerous?

The U.S. Army (and other military branches) didn’t know the full dangers of asbestos until the 1980s. Manufacturers of asbestos-based products knew the dangers back in the 1930s, but tried to hide the facts to keep profits high.

When the Army did learn about the risks, they took steps to remove asbestos from as many of its bases as possible.

Can asbestos still be found on U.S. Army bases?

Yes. Even though the Army took major efforts to remove asbestos on its bases, there may still be a small risk of exposure.

Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, and Fort Lewis all had asbestos-containing structures like barracks and family housing still intact well into the 2010s.

Were other military bases built with asbestos?

Yes. U.S Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force bases built between the 1930s and 1980s likely used asbestos-containing products.

For example, asbestos could be found in the piping, waterproofing grease applied to motors, and ovens at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Can I take legal action after being exposed to asbestos on Army bases?

Yes. You may qualify for legal action if you developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos on an Army base. Legal claims for mesothelioma award $1 million on average.

Legal action won’t be taken against the U.S. Army. Claims are usually filed against the makers of asbestos-based products, which hid the associated health risks.

You can also pursue legal action if you develop another asbestos-related illness like lung cancer or asbestosis.

Our sponsor law firm can help you explore your legal options right now. Call (877) 450-8973 to get started.

How else did the U.S. Army use asbestos?

From the 1930s to the late 1970s, the U.S. Army used asbestos in barracks, vehicles, and weapons systems. It was a cheap and effective insulator and fireproofing agent.

Further, the Army wasn’t the only military branch to use asbestos. The U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps also used asbestos in shipbuilding and the construction of bases for decades.

Veterans Support Team
Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) PhotoReviewed by:Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG)

VA-Accredited Attorney

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) is an attorney, a former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and a legal advisor at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center. Today, Eric continues to serve as a Captain in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where he is Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, upholding his dedication to his country and fellow veterans. Eric considers it his duty to help his veteran family and strives to help them navigate the VA and receive the benefits they so bravely earned.

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.

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