Military service can have a lasting impact on a person’s health. In addition to the physical and psychological stresses of war, many veterans are exposed to toxic chemicals and other hazardous materials. One such exposure is jet fuel, a common fuel used in aircraft and other military vehicles.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recognized the dangers of jet fuel exposure and offers a number of benefits to veterans who have been affected. These benefits can include compensation for medical expenses, disability payments, and vocational rehabilitation.
In this article, we will discuss the dangers of jet fuel exposure and the benefits the VA offers affected veterans. We’ll also provide information on how veterans can get help if they believe they have been exposed to jet fuel.
Jet Fuel Exposure Syndrome
Jet fuel exposure syndrome is a term used to describe the range of health problems that can occur after prolonged exposure to jet fuel.
The most common way for veterans to be exposed to jet fuel is inhalation. This can happen when they are working around aircraft or other vehicles that use jet fuel or in areas where jet fuel has been spilled or leaked. Jet fuel can also be absorbed through the skin, so veterans who come into contact with it can also be at risk of exposure.
For example, exposure to JP-8 is significant, given that it’s the most common jet fuel used by the military. JP-8 is a complex mixture of chemicals that can harm human health, even at low levels of exposure.
The symptoms of jet fuel exposure syndrome can vary depending on the amount of exposure, the duration of exposure, and the individual’s health.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Respiratory problems: Jet fuel exposure can damage the lungs and airways, leading to respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and lung cancer.
- Skin problems: Jet fuel exposure can cause skin irritation, rashes, and dermatitis.
- Neurological problems: Jet fuel exposure can damage the brain and nervous system, leading to headaches, memory problems, and cognitive decline.
- Cancer: Jet fuel exposure has been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as lung cancer and leukemia.
- Reproductive problems: Jet fuel exposure can damage the reproductive system, leading to infertility and birth defects.
In addition to these common symptoms, some veterans have reported more serious health problems, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Types of Military Fuels and Exposure Risks
The four primary fuel types used for military vehicles are JP-5, JP-8, Jet A1, and F76. Each has unique compositions and potential risks for service members with prolonged exposure to these fuels.
F76 (Diesel): Diesel fuels are made by distilling crude petroleum. F76 is a diesel fuel used in the Navy to power a ship’s turbine engines.
JP-8 (Jet Propulsion): A critical fuel derived from kerosene, JP-8 has specific additives for military use. Additions such as a Corrosion Inhibitor (CI), Fuel System Icing Inhibitor (FSII), and a Static Dissipative Additive (SDA) are integrated during the manufacturing process. Some JP-8 may also have a metal deactivator and an anti-oxidant.
JP-5: A kerosene-based fuel, JP-5’s higher flash point and lower tendency to cause fires make it ideal for use on Navy carriers. Navy personnel often work on aircraft in enclosed spaces below decks where vapor concentrations of JP-5 can be high, resulting in substantial jet fuel exposure.
Jet Fuel Exposure
Jet fuel exposure is a serious health hazard that can affect anyone who comes into contact with it, including mechanics, pilots, ground crew, and even administrative personnel. The risks of jet fuel exposure are not limited to those who directly handle the fuel.
There are many ways that people can be exposed to jet fuel, including:
- Working in fuel production facilities
- Handling the transportation of aviation fuel
- Serving on or maintaining military aircraft
- Inhaling air tainted with fuel vapors
- Consuming water polluted by jet fuel seepage
- Swimming in bodies of water affected by fuel leakage
- Touching soil that has absorbed spilled aviation fuel
- Residing in proximity to a jet fuel disposal or storage area
Identifying and documenting jet fuel exposure is essential. This information can be crucial when seeking VA benefits related to health problems caused by jet fuel.
Long-Term Effects of Jet Fuel Exposure
The human body is not designed to handle or process the chemicals found in jet fuel. Exposure to jet fuel over extended periods can lead to a variety of health issues, including:
- Neurological disorders: Jet fuel components can affect the nervous system, leading to tremors, cognitive impairment, or unconsciousness at high concentrations. Chronic symptoms can include depression, headache, sleep problems, and dizziness.
- Respiratory problems: Prolonged inhalation of jet fuel vapors can damage the respiratory system, causing conditions such as asthma or other chronic respiratory diseases.
- Cancer: Some studies have suggested that long-term exposure to jet fuel may increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Fuel vapors contain benzene, a known carcinogen that can cause leukemia. The risks are especially high if combined with other carcinogenic exposures common in military settings.
VA Compensation for Jet Fuel Exposure
Veterans who have been exposed to jet fuel and have developed health problems as a result may be eligible for VA compensation. The VA has a process for veterans to file claims for disability compensation related to jet fuel exposure.
The first step is to see a doctor and get a diagnosis of the health problem. The doctor must provide a medical opinion that the health problem is related to your exposure to jet fuel. You can also contact a VA Environmental Health Coordinator to help you get more information about the claims process.
If your claim is approved, you will receive monthly disability compensation. The compensation you receive will depend on the severity of your disability.
VA Disability Rating for Jet Fuel Exposure
The VA uses a disability rating system to determine a veteran’s compensation. This rating is a percentage that reflects the severity of the disability. For conditions related to jet fuel exposure, the rating can vary.
For example, conditions that do not interfere much with daily activities may receive a low rating. On the other hand, a veteran with a severe condition that prevents them from maintaining employment will receive a higher rating. Veterans should work closely with their healthcare providers and VA representatives to ensure that their conditions are appropriately documented and rated.
The VA’s recognition of the risks and implications of jet fuel exposure is a step in the right direction. Veterans who believe they may have been adversely affected by jet fuel during their service should seek medical advice and explore the VA benefits available. With the right knowledge and resources, veterans can navigate the complexities of the VA system and receive the compensation they deserve.
The VA considers the following factors when determining a disability rating for jet fuel exposure:
- The nature and severity of the health problem
- The length of time the veteran was exposed to jet fuel
- The veteran’s age and overall health
- The veteran’s ability to work and perform daily activities
The VA disability rating for jet fuel exposure can range from 0% to 100%. A rating of 0% means that the veteran’s health problem is not considered disabling. A rating of 100% means that the veteran is disabled and unable to work.
Veterans awarded a disability rating for jet fuel exposure may be eligible for monthly compensation, medical, and other VA benefits. The amount of compensation that a veteran receives will depend on the severity of their disability rating.
Get the Benefits You Deserve
Toxic exposure cases can be complex. Filing a VA disability claim for toxic exposure can be a daunting task. Having an experienced VA disability lawyer by your side can improve your chances of success. That’s where Cameron Firm, PC, comes in.
We have experienced VA disability lawyers who’ve helped many veterans get the benefits they deserve. We’ll advocate for your rights and fight for the benefits you are due. If you’re a veteran who’s been exposed to toxic substances and have developed health problems, schedule a free consultation by calling (800) 861-7262 or filling out the form below.
We can help you get the benefits you deserve.
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This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.