According to a report published in a British newspaper, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense is warning military staff who worked on the nation’s Sea King Helicopters that they were likely exposed to asbestos, and therefore at risk of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. The agency is working to remove all asbestos-contaminated parts that are currently in use, and have expressed extreme concern, as the helicopters have been in use for 50 years, since 1969. Though there is little worry about the health of those who piloted the helicopters, the engineers who assembled and maintained the equipmentare though to be at risk, and are the Ministry of Defence’s “highest priority.”
As a result of the fears regarding mesothelioma and other serious illnesses, the government is now working overtime to contact any veterans or staff who had worked on the Sea Kings helicopters. The following statement released by the Ministry reflects the level of concern, as well as the actions being taken: “Any remaining items in service Sea Kings suspected to contain asbestos are being removed urgently and we are contacting those who may have been exposed in the past, detailing the actions they should take.” They are also working to contact any organizations that may have purchased the units, including foreign governments and civilian organizations, explaining that, “The safety of our personnel and our partners is always our highest priority. All Sea King items suspected to contain asbestos have been removed from stores.”
Mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases are all too familiar to residents of the United Kingdom. Asbestos was used so extensively that roughly 5,000 people die there, even more than in the United States. The country took action to ban its use in 1999.
The fact that service members who had worked on the helicopters were at risk for mesothelioma came to light after an Australian serviceman died of mesothelioma four years ago. The helicopter has been used in nearly 15,000 missions over its fifty years in service. Its use is being phased out as it is being replaced by other types of helicopters.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma after having been exposed to asbestos, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net are here to help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.