In one form or another, the United States Coast Guard has been protecting the nation’s coastlines for over 200 years. The roughly 42,000 men and women serving in the Coast Guard are charged with not only enforcing U.S. laws and international treaties in U.S. waters but also safeguarding the lives of U.S. citizens in these waters.
In addition, the Coast Guard operates under the Department of Navy upon a declaration of war, and like any other military branch, Coast Guard members know that the day may come when they are asked to put the well-being of others ahead of their own. But given that Coast Guard men and women make this unselfish decision so freely, it is tragic that so many members are discovering that they were exposed to asbestos during their Coast Guard service – exposure that can lead to asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma decades later.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that is generally not dangerous in its natural form. However, once the material is processed and used in manufacturing it can be deadly if disturbed and becomes airborne.
After asbestos fibers are airborne, they can remain in that state for as long as 72 hours – which makes them easy to inhale. Once inhaled, asbestos can lead to the development of several asbestos-related illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Unfortunately, asbestos was once commonly used in the shipbuilding industry because of its insulation properties and its ability to resist heat. In fact, the extensive use of asbestos in Coast Guard ships includes the insulation and reflective material used in ships’ boilers and engines. Moreover, many of the pipes throughout Coast Guard ships were insulated with asbestos – meaning almost anyone on the ship was at risk of asbestos exposure.
Sadly, even those who served on Coast Guard ships years ago – when asbestos was more prevalent – are still at risk since it can take decades for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure.
If you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos while serving on a Coast Guard vessel, it is important to see a doctor to determine your current risk of asbestos-related diseases. Early detection is extremely important when fighting these diseases.
Moreover, if have already developed mesothelioma – or any asbestos-related illness – it is imperative to speak with an experienced asbestos litigation attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can not only help you track down the source of your asbestos exposure but also provide advice on your rights and options.