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Hundreds of Army tanks and vehicles could contain asbestos and why it should be more than a ‘serious concern’

The Ministry of Defence has recently admitted that over 2,000 army tanks and vehicles could contain asbestos containing materials and many of these pieces of equipment worryingly remain in use by military personnel today.

A full list of equipment that had asbestos containing materials included the below:

765 Bulldog armoured personnel carriers

324 Challenger 2 tanks

75 Challenger armoured repair and recovery vehicles

11 Fuchs armoured vehicles

14 Gazelle reconnaissance helicopters

31 high mobility trailers

841 Pinzgauer 4x4s

64 Stormer armoured vehicles

540 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles

34 Wildcat helicopters

The dangers of asbestos in army tanks and vehicles 

The presence of asbestos containing materials in army equipment is unfortunately well established and military and civilian employees of the Ministry of Defence have sadly been exposed to substantial quantities of asbestos for many years.

I have been instructed by a client who described spending several hours a day in tanks, in very confined conditions and was sadly diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer than affects the lining of the lungs.

Army vehicles such as 4x4s had asbestos brake linings and due to the increased wear and tear on these vehicles, which were often used in difficult terrains, military and civilian personnel would often find themselves changing the brakes more frequently and carrying out routine repairs that led to exposure to asbestos dust.

Exposure to asbestos doesn’t cause any significant illnesses at first but many years later people often develop symptoms of breathlessness, pain and fatigue and following further investigations are diagnosed with an asbestos related disease; asbestosis, pleural thickening, asbestos related cancer or mesothelioma. 

Why it is more than a ‘serious concern’

The use of asbestos has been banned since the 1990’s but the presence of asbestos and the dangers that people have faced for many years including military personnel, employees and the public remain the same.

Mesothelioma can often occur after people are exposed to very low levels asbestos exposure and the risk will increase in proportion to the number of times people are exposed and also the levels that they are exposed to.

If people are extensively using vehicles and in particular if the asbestos containing materials are disturbed, the risk will continue to increase.

Military personnel are already putting themselves at risk when serving for the country and they should not be exposed to asbestos as well. The MOD must do more to update existing equipment and protect the people that protect our country.

Irwin Mitchell has lawyers who specialise in acting on behalf of injured service personnel as well as the largest team of asbestos disease lawyers in the UK. Further information can be found at the dedicated section on our website