Fort Bragg Asbestos Exposure

Military beds lined up in a room, similar to Fort Bragg.

Fort Bragg Asbestos Exposure History

Veterans who lived in Fort Bragg’s barracks and buildings on base may have exposed themselves to the asbestos and mold that has since been found inside. In the early 1900s, asbestos was often used during the building process of family homes and soldier barracks at Fort Bragg, among other military bases around the United States. Fort Bragg’s history of exposure can’t be traced definitively because of a lack of a way to track the issues, but it can be assumed that anyone who lived or worked in these buildings has come in contact with toxins.

Located in North Carolina, Fort Bragg is one of the largest United States Army bases and is home to airborne and special operations forces. Coming into existence in 1918, the base’s main purpose at first was to be a training facility and during World War II it became home to over 67,000 soldiers. It wasn’t until 1951 that they got the title “Home of the Airborne.” Today Fort Bragg’s purpose is to maintain operations for the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Forces. The base’s history of asbestos exposure may start as far back as the buildings containing asbestos-filled walls were used. Some of the barracks today are uninhabitable after years of soldiers complaining about bad living conditions. These conditions were in the knowledge of their leaders, but they say they weren’t aware of problems affecting whole buildings—Rather, they were involved in removing single units to other mold and asbestos-free housing.

Smoke Bomb Hill Barracks – How Was Asbestos Used on Bases?

Fort Bragg and their asbestos issues forced soldiers to relocate after it was found in barracks leading to the building being condemned. As of Sept. 2023, they were able to relocate 325 soldiers to new on-base housing, but the rest have yet to be moved into other housing. Some soldiers were given a house allowance to find off-base housing, while others waited on their leaders to relocate them. Soldiers had been living at the Smoke Bomb Hill barracks in flooded rooms, with moldy walls and air vents, no air conditioning, and sometimes no hot water. The bases leaders have admitted to not having a way of tracking the mold and asbestos exposure over time.

For soldiers living in the Smoke Bomb Hill barracks, every aspect of their living area was saturated in either asbestos fibers or mold. With the combination of poor to no air conditioning ventilation, bad plumbing, and the buildings being over 50 years old —  the housing at Fort Bragg’s Smoke Bomb Hill has become uninhabitable. After years of complaints from the soldiers, the attention of Army Secretary Christine Wormouth was gathered to inspect the barracks of those complaining. It was after a visit from Wormouth that prompted the condemnation of Smoke Bomb Hill barracks. The asbestos used in the construction of military bases in combination with the mold growing in these barracks, has given the green light for the buildings to be demolished.

Asbestos in Barracks & Bases Living Areas

While these buildings were under construction, the price of asbestos was becoming cheaper because it was more readily available to buy. Asbestos was used at Fort Bragg and by the military as it is naturally fire-resistant, a good insulator, and can maintain its structure underwater. Using it in buildings was a no-brainer since there wasn’t any worry about its side effects at the time and no alternative that could compare to it. Concurrently, the military was using asbestos to build up their base housing. Veterans may have had contact with other materials made with asbestos, including fireproof clothing for firefighters, the food industry’s hot pads that were placed under pots and pans to protect countertops, and the automotive industry’s car and truck parts like brake shoes.

History of Fort Bragg Asbestos and Mold Exposures on Base

The history of Fort Bragg’s asbestos and mold exposure comes before the Smoke Bomb Hill barracks. It can track back to around the 1920s with the construction of military buildings and family housing using asbestos. Asbestos and mold exposure can both cause issues with a person’s breathing. For those with allergies or asthma, inhaling asbestos or mold can trigger an asthma attack or labored breathing. Extended exposure to either may lead to the development of asbestosis, mesothelioma, or other similar health issues. Breathing in asbestos fibers can lead to asbestosis, which is a lung disease that forms scar tissue in the liver. Those who develop asbestosis are at a high-risk to then get mesothelioma, which is a form of lung cancer in the pleura.

Asbestos-caused mesothelioma is common among military people. This is attributed to their extended exposure to asbestos fibers and the symptoms taking a while to develop. Mold exposure for military families in their on-base housing isn’t uncommon. Bases across the US have issues with mold growing in homes and some have caused health issues for those living there. Fort Meade, an army base in Maryland, has a history of mold growing in on-base homes that expose families living there unknowingly. In 2019, some families living at Fort Meade began the process of filing a lawsuit against the privatized company that is in charge of managing their homes.

What to do if You’ve Been Exposed at Fort Bragg

If you or someone you know has been exposed to Fort Bragg’s asbestos and has developed mesothelioma, you should consider filing a claim to receive benefits. To ensure health care and benefits for veterans, the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, better known as PACT Act, exists to help veterans receive proper care after toxic exposure. Toxic exposure The PACT Act includes asbestos on its list of toxic elements, which may qualify you for a presumptive condition and make you eligible for benefits. In the process of filing for a claim, you will not be placing the blame on the military — rather, Mesothelioma Vets can connect you to a VA who will advocate your case. If you have more questions regarding the process, who may qualify for benefits, mesothelioma information, or want to continue the conversation with one of our advocates, Mesothelioma Vets can help you find answers.