Are You a Veteran Suffering From Lung Cancer – There are numerous risk factors for the development of lung cancer but over the last years, scientific and medical evidence has started to emerge, creating a definite link between a lung cancer diagnosis and exposure to toxic agents.
Lung cancer is responsible for the most related deaths for males and although the development of the disease is a complex subject for which multiple factors such as genetics and smoking are taken into account, scientific evidence has established a clear link between environmental toxic exposure and the development of lung cancer, with an estimate of around 10-20% of cases possibly attributed to it. Toxic agents like asbestos, benzene, and potentially even PFAS chemicals could, over time, lead to the development of not only lung cancer but also other serious diseases.
One of the most dangerous toxic agents is considered to be asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that has been linked to cancer as early as 1920. Considering its disastrous effects on human health, it’s extremely important that veterans with a history of asbestos exposure undergo screenings in order to determine the presence of asbestos fibers in their lungs, as this can help catch a disease early on.
Asbestos Exposure – A Major Risk Factor for Navy Veterans
Up until 1980, asbestos was widely popular being used in virtually every industry. One of the industries where asbestos was most frequently utilized was the shipbuilding industry. Because most of them were being constructed for the Military, veterans serving aboard a ship ended up being exposed to large quantities of asbestos, putting their health at high risk. According to some estimates, asbestos exposure is responsible for the death of approximately 10,000 veterans, with close to 20 million former soldiers still being at great risk of developing serious lung diseases today. People who served in the U.S. Navy underwent by far the most severe exposure as the ships could have contained an estimate of around 300 asbestos products, although other branches of the Military have also made use of asbestos products.
Nowadays asbestos use is regulated in the military but people who are currently serving could still be exposed considering that older structures containing asbestos are still present in numerous military structures and facilities. When the products containing asbestos are tempered with, toxic fibers are released in the air, which inevitably leads to military personnel inhaling and ingesting asbestos.
Exposure to asbestos in the Military, can over time lead to the development of serious lung-related diseases and even lung cancer. These diseases can take as much as 30 years from the initial exposure to develop, and for this reason, it’s extremely important to regularly check your health if you have served in the Navy, Marines, or any other Military branch where you might have been exposed to asbestos. Aside from lung cancer, some of the other diseases that could develop include:
- Throat cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema
PFAS Exposure from AFFF – Another Cause for Concern
There have been a lot of controversies surrounding the subject of PFAS exposure. But aside from that, veterans and former firefighters should also be aware of the potential exposure to these chemicals stemming from the use of AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam), the special foam created by the Military in collaboration with 3M, with the purpose of putting out fuel-based fires.
Since its creation in 1960, The Navy required all of its vessels to carry the firefighting foam on board. Numerous other Military branches and bases (such as Air Force bases) with the potential for fuel ignited fires also started to utilizing this foam. In a review, toxic chemicals in AFFF are PFOS and PFOA and although efficient, they have unique properties that cause them to persist, accumulate in the blood and body of people exposed to them, and are also extremely persistent in the environment and likely have toxic effects on human health. Numerous studies have emerged over the past years, linking these chemicals to various types of cancer and confirming that people who were directly exposed to them through the use of AFFF could be at a higher risk.
The link has also been confirmed by health agencies such as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Cancer Society (ACS), and U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), with EPA classifying these chemicals in the ’emerging contaminants’ category, establishing the fact that environmental risks, as well as health hazards involved with AFFF, are significant. Most recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified PFOA as a “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, this finding from many studies and the evidence of bladder cancer in factory employees and workers that were exposed to PFOA. A few other types of a cancer diagnosis from exposure to AFFF include:
- Kidney cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Neuroendocrine tumors
The Toxic Exposure at Camp Lejeune
Soldiers who were stationed at Camp Lejeune and their families have been exposed to various toxic agents such as benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and vinyl chloride steaming from industrial solvents, dry cleaning fluids, lead, and fuel. Toxic waste was dumped directly onto the soil of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, ultimately ending up in chemical exposure for military and family members.
Testing conducted in that area has found concentrations as much as 3400 times over the permitted limit. More than 70 chemicals have been identified here, and although there have been reports and warnings in regards to the contamination at Camp Lejeune as early as 1982 no serious action was taken until 1997 when ATSDR started investigating water wells. Recent studies have found a direct relationship between exposure to the chemicals that have been found at Camp Lejeune (especially benzene) and various types of cancer, including lung cancer. Some of the other diseases for which veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune and their families might be at risk for include:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Liver cancer
Why It’s Important to Understand the Potential Sources of Toxic Exposure And the Risk Factors Associated With It
If you are a veteran serving in one of the Military branches where you could have been exposed to toxic agents such as asbestos, benzene, or PFAS, it’s strongly recommended that you regularly check up on your health. Diseases that can form as a consequence of toxic exposure are quite rare and they often get misdiagnosed. In order to receive a correct diagnosis, it’s important to connect the dots and provide all information related to your background and possible toxic exposure as this might tremendously help speed up the diagnosis process and therefore, get a better prognosis.
Another reason why understanding the sources of your exposure is important is the fact that it can help you recover compensation from the companies responsible for manufacturing the asbestos products that were used in Military branches, or who are responsible for releasing chemical compounds into the environment and putting you at great health risks. The process of recovering compensation requires rigorous documentation regarding your diagnosis and the presence of asbestos fibers or other chemicals in your lungs or blood, documents proving your time in the Military as well as additional documentation that can link your disease to toxic exposure occurring at the branch you served in.
With the help of an experienced attorney, the process of obtaining compensation can become quite simple, and your chances of recovering a substantial amount significantly raise, as they possess the necessary knowledge to ensure a successful toxic exposure claim.