In the Navy, officers face many risks. However, few knew until recently about the near-constant threat of asbestos-related illnesses. There were numerous buildings, vehicles, and areas in which naval officers were exposed to dangerous asbestos components. While on the job, Navy officers could inhale asbestos from surrounding parts or the environment, potentially taking dangerous particles home with them on their clothing. Asbestos is a dangerous material known for causing numerous long-term health problems. Many individuals exposed to asbestos go on to develop mesothelioma, a deadly cancer.
The Navy used materials and parts containing asbestos for years, causing the death and illnesses of countless naval officers and their families. These threats came from many different sources, some of which proved more dangerous than others.
Asbestos & Navy Ships
Navy veterans who worked on or around ships between the 1930’s and 1990’s faced the largest risk of asbestos exposure. Most ships were insulated with asbestos materials, which was often present throughout the ship. Some ships also had piping, cables, valves, gaskets, and other materials that contained asbestos. Asbestos materials were primarily used in ships to create and maintain heat resistance in areas where dangers of fires and over-heating were prominent. While these materials were used mainly in ships, the Navy also used asbestos-contaminated materials in the sleeping quarters and other buildings constructed for Navy workers.
The Navy workers who constructed theses ships and tore them down were likely exposed to large amounts of asbestos fibers on a regular basis. Countless workers did their part to construct naval ships, sometimes without protective face gear to prevent the inhalation of dust and debris naturally stirred in construction. What they did not know at the time was that much of that debris contained deadly asbestos fibers as well.
The most hazardous jobs were left to those who constructed, repaired, renovated, and demolished the asbestos-containing Navy ships. Some workers were required to install flooring or construct walls around the asbestos insulation, while others helped deconstruct older ships, causing the release of asbestos particles and dust into the air. Handling the asbestos materials in construction was risky, especially when debris few freely, but workers who demolished the ships usually faced an even greater risk. Navy workers who broke down brittle pipes or tore open insulated walls stirred the stiff, frail asbestos components, causing it to stir in the air and increase the risk of exposure.
Onboard Navy Ships
Although construction of naval ships was the prime danger, anyone working on the naval vessels that contained asbestos were at risk of exposure. However, some jobs were more dangerous than others.
Some of the most harmful jobs onboard Navy ships included:
- Boiler tenders
- Engine mechanics
- Ship Fitters
- Steel Workers
While these jobs were the most notable positions exposed to asbestos materials, anyone aboard the ship could have inhaled asbestos fibers and become ill. Asbestos materials were regularly used in the engine rooms, boiler rooms, ammunition rooms, storage facilities, mess halls, sleeping quarters, and navigation rooms. Everyone onboard the naval ships built with asbestos were potentially exposed, especially those deployed for a long period of time.
What Can You Do Now?
When inhaled, asbestos fibers remain in the soft tissues of the body, sometimes remaining dormant for years before causing damage. Asbestos exposure is most prominently linked to respiratory illnesses and the development of lung, throat, esophagus, and kidney cancers. Mesothelioma, a rare cancer, is caused primarily by exposure to asbestos materials. It impacts the cell linings, and usually regenerates at a very fast rate, making it a particularly aggressive form of cancer.
If you are a Navy veteran and you were recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, you might be eligible for compensation. The Navy ordered the removal of all asbestos materials after the dangerous link between asbestos and mesothelioma was exposed, but many Navy workers still suffered from exposure. Mesothelioma can be extremely expensive to treat, it the physical burden of such a disease can be exceedingly painful and distressing. Our firm is here to help you fight for justice if you or your loved one developed mesothelioma as a result of Naval work.
Contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P. for help with your mesothelioma or asbestos case.