Those who served our country in past and were exposed to cancerous chemicals like benzene are now dealing with aftermath that toxic exposure can have on our lives. The men and women who are now U.S. veterans are also now have aware of the repercussions of benzene exposure and how important it it to have access to medical screening in order to live a healthy, happy life.
However, there is currently no government set program available to veterans of war so they can be screened, even if they worked and lived in highly toxic environments. Among the illnesses many of these veterans are being diagnosed with due to exposure to deadly chemicals like benzene, is bladder cancer.
Benzene Causes Rare Cancers
According to Dr. Robert Schlesinger, who is a retired Army Colonel and urologist, “Organic compounds in general, and benzene containing compounds specifically are recognized as carcinogenic for the lining of the entire urinary tract, kidneys, ureters and bladder. There is no dispute regarding this.”
Although bladder cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths and it can be detected through an inexpensive and non-invasive medical test, it is still alarming that the government hasn’t set up free screening for those who could be at high risk.
Toxic Chemicals Common on Military Sites
From research conducted in 2003 by the Air Force, 1,400 military sites across the country were found to be contaminated with benzene and other known carcinogens. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Priority List (Superfund) lists multiple organic solvent, benzene included, and other contaminants for military bases. However, veterans haven’t been notified of much of this information.
Over 130 military bases throughout the United States currently serve as hazardous waste sites. The extent of contamination on the land, in the water, and in the air is reportedly so severe that federal action is required in order to prevent further health damage. According to many environmental officials, the issue isn’t just about a few empty barrels releasing toxins on an open lot. Instead, it’s about veterans who worked and lived where chemicals like benzene were prevalent, now resulting in several cases of mutations and cancer diagnoses.