Navy Veterans And Asbestos Exposure


Were You Exposed to Asbestos in the Navy?

You may have a right to financial compensation if you developed health problems due to Navy asbestos exposure.

What is the Link Between Navy Veterans and Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos is a fire-resistant and heat-resistant mineral with robust insulation capabilities. As a result of these properties, asbestos fibers were commonly used on Navy ships as a fireproofing material.

It was in the mid 1900s when the United States military became especially aggressive in terms of fireproofing its ships. Asbestos fireproofing materials were commonplace, resulting in many so-called mesothelioma veterans, who are believed to have developed this rare form of cancer as a result of their exposure to the asbestos in ships.

In addition to being used in Navy ship fireproofing materials, asbestos was also said to be used in the area surrounding ship boilers. Again, thanks to its insulating properties and fireproof qualities, asbestos was a top pick for use in boiler room components that were exposed to high heat.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the U.S. Navy stopped adding asbestos to its ships, although many of the already-fireproofed ships were not cleansed of asbestos materials until many years later. The Navy used asbestos for hundreds of different applications, as it is a very versatile mineral.

The large amounts of asbestos on Navy ships led to many mesothelioma veterans and other former military members who have been sickened with asbestos diseases. In addition to veterans, civilian shipyard workers and civilian maintenance personnel were also at risk of asbestos exposure from Navy ships. Asbestos removal crews were also at risk of exposure.

The caring and compassionate team here at MesoWatch strives to educate mesothelioma veterans and other asbestos exposure victims of their legal rights to financial compensation and other benefits, such as expedited Social Security benefits.

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Where Was Asbestos Found on Navy Ships? Who Was Exposed?

Any and all military personnel who worked on a Navy ship with asbestos was at risk of exposure.

Navy ships were outfitted with asbestos in many areas, as there were many sections of the ships that required fireproofing, along with heat resistant coatings and materials. Navy sailors were at the highest risk of asbestos exposure while working in certain areas of the ship, including:

  • the boiler room;
  • the engine room;
  • the pump room;
  • the ammunition storage rooms and bays;
  • the weapon storage rooms and bays;
  • the navy ship turrets;
  • the powder and shot hoist areas;
  • the ward rooms;
  • …among others.

The areas of a typical Navy ship that had the lowest risk of asbestos exposure were the mess deck, reefer area, anchor windlass room, chain locker, crew berthing spaces, the bridge, the radar room, the navigation room, the junior officers’ quarters and the “brass” cabins.

Asbestos was found in many components of the ship, including:

  • fireproofed walls;
  • fireproofed flooring materials;
  • cables;
  • valves and gaskets;
  • pipe insulation;
  • motors;
  • pumps;
  • compressors and condensers.

Asbestos could become airborne when performing maintenance or repairs on the boilers, pumps and other components. In fact, it was the boiler tenders, boiler makers and boiler technicians who were among those who are believed to be at the highest risk of asbestos exposure in the Navy.

Since microscopic asbestos fibers can linger in the air, it was military personnel who worked primarily below deck who were at the highest risk of asbestos exposure aboard Navy ships.

But notably, a Navy veteran didn’t need to work directly with asbestos-laden materials or components in order to be exposed to the dangerous mineral. Many of the Navy’s battle ships had bunks and even the mess hall situated beneath pipes that were covered with asbestos fireproofing and insulation material. Tiny asbestos fibers were routinely shed by the piping, resulting in a dangerous dust that would become airborne inside the ship.

As the ships aged, the risk of asbestos exposure increased because the mineral (and other materials) get progressively more brittle over time.

In addition to Navy veterans who served aboard a ship, many others were potentially exposed to asbestos, including shipyard workers and salvage workers who disassembled Navy ships that were sold for scrap. A number of older Navy ships were sold for scrap metal in the 1990s, resulting in potential asbestos exposure incidents involving the salvage crews who dis-assembled the ship and handled the materials.

Even land-based Navy bases and barracks have been found to be contaminated with asbestos. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an asbestos contamination citation in 2011 to a Klamath County, Oregon subdivision which was the former site of a Navy base. Also you can find useful infio here

Merchant Marines and Asbestos Exposure

In addition to enlisted members of the U.S. Navy, merchant marines also faced many similar asbestos exposure risks.

The Navy auxiliary division’s ships were used to transport personnel and supplies, including ammunition and weapons during war and conflicts. As a result, many of the merchant mariners were also exposed to asbestos.

So in addition to Navy veterans with asbestos exposure, there were also many former U.S. Merchant Marines who developed asbestos diseases like mesothelioma after they were exposed aboard ships.

Notably, the U.S. Merchant Marines are regarded as civilians and as such, they were not eligible for help from the VA benefits for mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. But the Shipping Reform Act of 1988 changed this, affording veteran’s benefits to Merchant Marines who served in World War II. So in addition to Navy veterans, merchant marines can also take advantage of the available benefits for mesothelioma veterans.

How Does Asbestos Cause Mesothelioma and Other Diseases in Veterans?

Navy veterans exposed to asbestos may develop mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that can impact the lungs or abdominal cavity, amongst other areas. Symptoms usually manifest decades after the exposure incident — as long as 20, 30 or even 40 years after asbestos exposure.

Navy veterans who endured asbestos exposure are at especially high risk of developing mesothelioma or another asbestos disease, such as pleurisy, asbestosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pleural effusion and pleural thickening, among other conditions.

The asbestos fibers cause cancer when they become embedded in tissues in the lungs or digestive tract or in another area of the body. Since asbestos is a mineral, the tiny asbestos particles will not degrade. Instead, they cause serious damage to the tissues, ultimately leading to abnormal cell growth and cancer.

A study performed in 1990 revealed abnormalities in one in three of the more than 3,300 chest x-rays that were performed on merchant marines, while over 42% engine crewmen exhibited abnormal findings that were consistent with asbestos exposure.

What Health Problems are Navy Veterans Facing?

Navy veterans who were exposed to asbestos could develop one or more very serious diseases, including, but not limited to:

  • Asbestosis;
  • Pleurisy;
  • Pleural (lung) Mesothelioma;
  • Gastroinestinal Mesothelioma;
  • Pleural Plaques;
  • Pleural Thickening;
  • Pleural Effusion;
  • Atelactasis;
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD);

And various forms of cancer.

Pleural mesothelioma is perhaps one of the most serious asbestos diseases, with just 4 in 10 patients surviving 12 months post-diagnosis. By five years post-diagnosis, approximately 8% of mesothelioma veterans are still alive. It’s statistics such as these that make this diagnosis a very difficult and devastating one for veterans and their loved ones.

Help for Mesothelioma Veterans and Navy Vets Exposed to Asbestos

Veterans, merchant marines and others who were the victim of Navy asbestos exposure have a number of options available to them. These options include filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, to obtaining VA benefits and expedited Social Security benefits. There are even asbestos trust funds that disburse money to asbestos exposure victims without the need to file a lawsuit.

If you are a Navy veteran with mesothelioma or lost a loved one due to a disease associated with asbestos exposure, MesoWatch is here to provide you with the information and resources you need to understand the many options that are available to you. Call (800) 956-9876.