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Veterans who served in the Marine Corps before the mid 1970s are at risk of developing mesothelioma. Like other veterans serving during this period of time, Marines were unknowingly exposed to asbestos on land and at sea.

Asbestos Use in the Marines


Marines were put at a high risk of asbestos exposure during the 1930s to 1970s. This heightened risk of exposure was due to the military’s broad use of the cancer-causing mineral in construction materials. Veterans who served in the Marine Corps from WWII to the end of the Vietnam War may have encountered asbestos-containing materials in housing units, on ships and in land bases.


At Risk Marine Veterans

Marines who worked in the following occupations before the 1970s are likely to have encountered asbestos during active duty:

  • Mechanic
  • Pipe Fitter
  • Welder
  • Insulation installer
  • Roofer or floorer


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Where Marines Used Asbestos

Due to their versatile deployment, Marines encountered asbestos in a variety of places:

  • Barracks
  • Mess halls
  • Bases and nearby residential areas
  • Common rooms
  • Sleeping quarters


Marines were also deployed with Navy servicemen on vessels constructed with asbestos-containing materials. The majority of naval vessels contained asbestos in every section of the ship, including the engine room, boiler room, officers quarters, mess deck and bridge.

Marines were also often required to frequent shipyards, where asbestos-containing ships were constructed and maintained. The work done on these ships would release microscopic asbestos particles into the air, exposing Marines and other servicemen.

The naval shipyard is one of the places where famed actor Steve Mcqueen encountered asbestos while serving as a Marine. He was charged with removing asbestos from pipes in Navy ships, a common duty for Marines and servicemen.

In addition to the exposure experienced during deployment, Marines may have encountered asbestos while training. In 2009, several millions of dollars were awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARAA) to construction companies for renovations on Parris Island, the most famous Marine training camp. A focus of these renovations was the abatement (removal) of asbestos containing materials from the famed boot camp. Unfortunately, the renovations were completed in 2010, decades after thousands of Marine recruits trained at the camp.

Next Steps for Marine Veterans

Any Marine Corps veteran who served during the 1930s to 1970s was unknowingly put at risk for asbestos exposure. The VA recognizes that exposure to asbestos is linked to the development of mesothelioma, a rare, aggressive cancer, and offers benefits to help pay for treatment.

Our Veterans Help Team is here to assist veterans with their VA benefits claims. If you’re a veteran with service-connected mesothelioma, contact a member of our Veterans Help Team for more information on how we can help you file a claim with the VA.