Asbestos & WW2 Veterans

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by TomTAS, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. TomTAS

    TomTAS Very Senior Member

    Hi All,

    Had this from Carl Jewett Mesothelioma Center
    What is mesothelioma? It is a rapacious cancer that attacks the internal lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. More than 30 percent of Americans beset with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos during military service. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are currently 25 million living individuals who have served in the United States' armed forces. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of these living veterans were exposed to toxic asbestos-containing materials during military service. Asbestos dot com offers complete information on mesothelioma & veterans, lists of occupations, ships, and shipyards that could have put our Veterans at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    thank you
    I was reading an article about the Carden Lloyd carrier and it states that the engine had an asbestos surround.

  3. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    A very interesting subject.

    Asbestos material is a very long term enemy indeed.

  4. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

    It's not just WW2 veterans that where affected, also some later serving personel, especially those with RN. My Step Father served in the Navy for years in the 50's and 60's and was onboard during a refit.

    18 months ago he was found to have a growth on his lung, which after an operation to remove (Partialy) was confirmed as asbestosis. Within weeks he was in receipt of a war pension from the goverment.

    Sadly it has returned, so he is now under going a course of Chemo at Clatterbridge

  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It's worth bearing in mind as well that British civilian and service respirators included asbestos in the construction and this is now decomposing. Best not to try them on.
  6. singeager

    singeager Senior Member

    Agreed with the respirators (gas masks) ..

    At the war and peace show, i was browsing a traders stool when i heard a mother ask the trader if the WW2 German gas mask her son was just about to put on was safe.

    The trader replied it was!

    I had to step in and explain that it used asbestos as a filter and that it is not advisable to wear an old gas mask. Needless to say she did not buy it!

    The trader then got upset with me for losing a £10 sale.

    I told him that I thought he valued the life of his clients far too cheaply and if he had a problem with what I had said then he could F*** O**.
  7. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    There is an article here: Gas Masks, D-Day and the Asbestos Hazard


    "Last month (May, 2014) the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), provided definitive advice to the three Education Departments in Great Britain on “Gas Masks and Asbestos” which warned that:

    “no gas masks should be worn or handled by children or teachers… [unless] clearly certified as safe to do so… the majority of the British Army (‘Brodie’) helmets… issued during the First World War, contain chrysotile (white) asbestos in the helmet liner… it is not appropriate for children or teachers to wear or handle any artefacts that potentially contain asbestos”3

    It is surprising that it took the HSE so long to act. Letters, reports and guidance issued on this subject in the 1980s by the Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down were unambiguous as was advice provided by the Imperial War Museum some while later:

    • Letter from the Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down December 7, 1984 (see: Porton Down Letters 1984-2013, pages 4-5): “gas masks issued to the civilian population during WWII contained asbestos… The asbestos was of the blue [crocidolite] variety… Asbestos is likely to be present in the canisters of not only the WWII civilian masks but in any older UK gas mask and in many foreign masks… Gas masks or their canisters should not be given to children as toys…”
    • Report by the Chemical Defence Establishment, October 1989: Asbestos in World War II Respirator Canisters – “The majority of British Service and Civilian respirator canisters manufactured just before and during the early years of World War II contained a particulate filter consisting of carded wool and asbestos in the proportion of about 80% wool to 20% asbestos…” The report estimates that of the 97 million WWII General Civilian Respirators produced before 1939, 40 million (43%) were made with asbestos. At the beginning of the war, General Service Respirators contained a particulate filter composed of 80% merino wool and 20% blue asbestos; it is believed 5 million were made. Production on the Small Child’s Respirator, known as the “Mickey Mouse,” began in February 1939; the standard particulate filter contained asbestos.
    • Guidance from the Imperial War Museum December 7, 2004: “Most British gas masks of WW2 vintage have asbestos (blue and/or white) as a component in their filters.”
    It is not only vintage British gas masks that could be hazardous when handled by current populations according to the Porton Down scientists:

    “During World War II the Military Intelligence branch of the War office issued reports on the chemical warfare equipment developed by the Germans (14), Japanese (15) and Italians (16). These reports indicate that with the exception of the Italians, who used resin-impregnated wool and viscose rayon as a particulate filter the use of asbestos-wool was common in WWII respirator canisters. Asbestos-wool was used in Soviet respirators in WWII and is still used.”

    U.S. WWII gas masks were also made with asbestos and as asbestos remains legal in the United States, it is possible that the sale, supply and use of these hazardous items may pose a serious risk to people engaged in projects related to the upcoming anniversaries."
    CL1 likes this.

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