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Why is Asbestos Exposure Common Among Maritime Workers?

Maritime worker on a boat

When asbestos particles are inhaled or ingested, they can cause deadly respiratory conditions, including the rare and aggressive cancer, mesothelioma. Many workers encounter asbestos on the job, and then develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases years later. The maritime industry in particular puts workers at risk for asbestos exposure, as many ships that are still operational were constructed with asbestos. However, there have been recent changes in legislation to help protect maritime workers, but they may not be enough.

Fires can be devastating when out at sea, and for many years, asbestos was an effective solution. Asbestos is both inexpensive and fire resistant and has been used to insulate sleeping and dining quarters; wrap high-heat components, such as boilers and engines; and even coat the walls of the ship when mixed with paint. Parts, such as gaskets, cables, ceiling and floor tiles, and valves, can also contain asbestos. While asbestos helped protect maritime workers from fires, it put them at risk for deadly diseases.

Workers on ships and in shipyards often handled asbestos directly, installing or removing fireproofing and insulation throughout the ship. Asbestos particles can easily become airborne during these tasks, and workers are often stuck in small spaces with poor ventilation. When workers inhale these fibers, they get lodged in the lining of the lungs and begin to destroy the surrounding tissue. Symptoms of mesothelioma or other conditions may not appear until decades later; by the time mesothelioma is diagnosed, patients often have a short life expectancy.

Marines and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a serious concern for veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps. Marines are regularly exposed to asbestos on military bases, ships, and planes. Although the use of asbestos in military construction was banned in the early 1980s, buildings, vehicles, and equipment built before the ban that contained asbestos continued to be used, including some that are still in use today. Marine Corps veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos while they served are eligible for VA benefits, and they may be able to pursue legal action against the companies that supplied asbestos products to the armed forces.

There is no level of asbestos exposure that is considered safe, but some asbestos use is still considered legal. In the United States, a ship can contain up to 1.0 percent asbestos and still be labeled asbestos-free, while other countries have their own sets of regulations, or no legal limit at all. The International Maritime Organization has established regulations for ships built after 2002, requiring them to remove any asbestos found onboard within three years. Ships built before 2002, however, can contain asbestos as long as they have a hazardous materials register and a documented management plan for any work that would encounter asbestos. If a person has mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, they may have legal options available.

Philadelphia Asbestos Attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Fight for the Rights of Maritime Workers Exposed to Asbestos

If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease due to maritime asbestos exposure, a Philadelphia asbestos attorney at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler can help. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is at fault for your asbestos exposure and fight to obtain the compensation you deserve. Located in Philadelphia, our experienced attorneys help asbestos exposure victims throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-4000 for a free consultation today.