Coast Guard and Asbestos Mesothelioma Exposure Risks

By - on April 13, 2020

Last Updated: June 1st, 2020

Views: 67

There are relatively few mesothelioma cases diagnosed in Coast Guard veterans annually. This because the Coast Guard is a relatively small branch of the US military.

However, Coast Guard veterans still have a high risk of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Asbestos was heavily used in Coast Guard vessels because it was useful for insulating and fireproofing. Asbestos also was used in building materials, siding, and fire protection equipment for Guard members.

While asbestos was not used in the construction of Coast Guard vessels after 1980, the toxin is still present in many ships today. When asbestos is disturbed in any way, tiny fibers are blown into the air that can be inhaled or swallowed, which may lead to pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma.

It is recommended that Coast Guard veterans with a history of asbestos exposure be regularly monitored by their mesothelioma doctor for signs of mesothelioma cancer. Symptoms include shortness of breath, dry cough, and pain in the back and sides. (Clevelandclinic.org)

How Coast Guard Members Were Exposed to Asbestos

The US military used asbestos in most of its vehicles and buildings for decades. Since the 1980s, the US Coast Guard has removed most asbestos from its ships. But for many Coast Guard veterans, it was too late because the asbestos exposure occurred years ago. (mesothelioma.com)

Coast Guard workers who were involved in construction and demolition were at unusually high risk of exposure. Asbestos fibers could be released into the air during the installation or removal of asbestos-containing materials. Invisible asbestos shards could cling to hair, clothes, skin, and shoes and be inhaled for hours. Mechanics who installed and repaired vessel components were at risk of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos also was used in materials that demolition and construction workers used, including piping, flooring, and ceiling tiles.

Shipyard workers in the Coast Guard who made parts for ships until 1980 also could have been exposed to asbestos.

Coast Guard Occupations Involving High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Coast Guard members who were assigned to vessels built before 1991 may have been exposed to asbestos. Routine exposure to asbestos on Coast Guard cutters may have occurred where members were exposed to thermal insulation and torn floor tiles. (DCMS.USCG.mil)

A higher level of exposure may have occurred during maintenance procedures for Coast Guard members engaged in tearing up floor surfaces that contained asbestos if there was no personal protective equipment used.

According to the Veterans Administration, Coast Guard members who were employed in any of the below work may have been exposed to asbestos: (VA.gov)

The VA also recommends you should be tested if you were a member of the Coast Guard who worked with the following products:

  • Flooring
  • Roofing
  • Cement sheet
  • Pipes
  • Insulation

Where Coast Guard Members Were Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos was used to insulate all Coast Guard ships until at least the Vietnam War. So service members on these ships were working with asbestos-containing materials daily and may have even had it on their bodies for weeks at a time. Before the late 70s, a Coast Guard member could be exposed to the carcinogen almost anywhere onboard. But there were some areas of the ship that were higher risk than others.

  • Boiler rooms
  • Mess halls
  • Sleeping quarters
  • Engine rooms
  • Navigation rooms

Asbestos also could be found in many components of Coast Guard cutters:

  • Cables
  • Electrical wiring
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Flooring tiles
  • Deck coating
  • Insulation
  • Valves
  • Gaskets
  • Piping

Asbestos exposure in most parts of Coast Guard ships before the late 70s was frequent because the ships had poor ventilation. If asbestos materials were disturbed, the particles could circulate in the ship for hours.

Coast Guard members who worked in shipyards had the greatest risk of mesothelioma. Shipyard workers were often exposed to asbestos as they built, repaired, and tore down ships.

The major shipyard for the Coast Guard was the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard in Maryland, which is now called the United States Coast Guard Yard. Veterans who worked at this facility before the 1980s may have been exposed to the carcinogen.

As these members did their assigned duties at the yard, large amounts of asbestos were blown into the air that could be inhaled or swallowed. Over time, the fleet of ships in the Coast Guard wore down. This made it easier for asbestos particles to become airborne.

Asbestos was also used in the Coast Guard in these locations:

  • Aircraft
  • Buildings
  • Bases
  • Vehicles

Recent Exposure to Asbestos

Regulations regarding asbestos use are strict in the US today. But asbestos exposure has occurred recently in the Coast Guard. A recent news story discussed FOIA documents that indicated that the Coast Guard had hired an environmental contractor in 2015 to remove asbestos from base housing, including a closet in a child’s bedroom.

Exposing children to asbestos is particularly dangerous because they have more years to develop an asbestos-related disease. (MVTimes.com)

Conclusion

If you are a Coast Guard veteran and your doctor diagnosed you with mesothelioma or asbestosis, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced asbestos litigation attorney. It is particularly critical to work with an attorney who knows how to handle asbestos lawsuits within the US military.

You also may be eligible to file a third-party mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit against the companies that made the asbestos-containing products that caused your disease.

Further, your asbestos exposure attorney may be able to assist you in getting mesothelioma compensation from one or more asbestos trust funds. These funds were set up by companies to compensate employees and military veterans who were exposed to asbestos and were diagnosed with a related disease.

Some Coast Guard veterans also might be eligible for VA benefits if you were exposed to the carcinogen and were honorably discharged.

Request Immediate Legal Help

With over $30 billion available for victims through asbestos bankruptcy trust funds, you are entitled to financial compensations without ever filing an asbestos, lung cancer or mesothelioma lawsuit. You need legal representation to get started. Mesothelioma & lung cancer victims qualify immediately. Complete the form or call us toll-free (800) 352-0871 immediately.